Are you ready for a break, a holiday, a sabbatical, or a vacation? Whatever you like to call it, I know I sure need one. As I write this, I’m getting ready to head out for a much-needed family vacation.
It’s interesting to look at the comparison between the amount of vacation typically offered in the US (about two weeks per year) versus the averages in other countries, with several nations having an average of 4 to 6 weeks of “holiday” each year.
Also, the US is in the clear minority with no federally mandated minimum amount of leave from work, while most industrialized countries have approved ample amounts of required vacation time.
I’m always astounded when I hear people say they haven’t taken a real break from work in years. We all know that self-care is vitally important. If we don’t take some time to refresh and recharge our physical and mental batteries from time to time, we get tired and lose focus.
Let’s also get the point out that a “staycation,” where you take time off but stay at home, can also derive the same benefits as the get-away vacation, where you travel away from home.
Here are 10 healthy benefits you can get from taking a vacation, in no particular order.
1) Rest and relaxation
This is one of the most obvious benefits. Use your vacation to rest, catch up on sleep (if needed), and relax, both physically and mentally. As much as possible, unplug from work emails and other work-related tasks. Make arrangements in advance with work colleagues to cover your duties so you can really take that mental break from work mode.
2) Family time
Another great benefit of vacations is spending some of that much desired “quality time” with family, which can often be hard to achieve during your regular work schedule. Vacations can also offer the opportunity to visit with family you don’t get to see on a regular basis. Nurture and grow these relationships, and particularly relish the time with older family members who won’t be around forever.
3) Making memories
You’ve probably heard the quote “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” I like this, as it reminds us to make special memories on vacation that we will remember and cherish for the rest of our lives. I’m personally also a great fan of taking photographs or videos on vacation, because you can capture those special moments to save in a more tangible way.
4) Intellectual stimulation
I’ve always found it satisfying to learn something new while on vacation. When I toured the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, I was so fascinated to see and learn about Thomas Jefferson’s extensive private library of over 6,400 books which he donated to the library. Take some time to read, take a tour or find other ways to learn more about the world around you while you’re on vacation.
5) Physical activity
There are so many great options to be physically active while on vacation. While this may not fit into some folks’ definition of a relaxing vacation, it’s invigorating to walk, jog, swim, hike, play sports, work out, or find other ways to stay active and to improve your physical health and fitness.
6) Spiritual renewal
Along with keeping our minds and bodies healthy, enriching our spiritual self is also important. Whether you enjoy meditation, prayer, religious activities, or mindul reflection, you’ll feel refreshed and renewed after taking some time for these types of activities.
7) Cultural enrichment
Whether you stay at home or travel abroad, it’s easy to look for ways to have new and enriching cultural experiences. Explore an area that affords new options in food, art, or music, or meet new people from diverse cultural backgrounds. Local festivals can be another great option for new cultural opportunities.
8) Taking up new interests
When you have some free time on vacation, this can be the perfect time to try a new hobby or interest. Try to play a new musical instrument, cook a new recipe, try a new art or craft-based activity, or check out a different kind of sport or even try dancing. The options are limitless!
9) Enjoying nature
One of my favorite vacation pursuits is to get outside and explore nature. When I was younger, I toured many of the the US National Parks, and reveled in the beauty and diversity of these great outdoor spaces. Closer to home, it’s easy to find local parks, trails, and other beautiful outdoor spots to find and enjoy.
10) Gaining perspective
I typically find that when I’m unplugged from my usual work-related responsibilities on vacation, I have time to reflect a bit and gain some perspective about my life. On a recent vacation, my wife and I talked about our hopes and dreams for the next 20 years or so and some of the things we hope to achieve in keeping with our values and priorities. Taking some time for this type of perspective-taking can help you refocus on your personal goals and stay on track toward achieving them.
Hopefully I’ve convinced you that vacations are worthwhile and they have many benefits for your overall health and wellness. Now, it’s just up to you to get out there and take advantage of these many benefits. Have fun!
Here’s a question: What benefits have you received from a vacation? Please leave a comment. Also, please subscribe to my blog and feel free to follow me on Twitter, “like” my Facebook page, or connect on LinkedIn. Thanks!