• BLOG | Why Vacations Improve Your Health & Well-Being?

    March 26, 2019 | Andrew Stead
  • We live in an era of consumption, an era of things: shopping malls are our new cathedrals, and our new paradise is a place packed with all the belongings we have the urge to buy. But does buying new things really make us happier? A 20-year study at Cornell University proves it doesn’t. Sure happiness generally rises when we get our new phone, shoes or that watch we always wanted, but how long does it last?

    The reasons why the contentment doesn’t last long are threefold:

    1.      Diminishing Returns:We get used to possessions, and – like bored children – won’t play with them anymore
    2.      Expectations:as we look for new stimulus our expectations increase, which leads to frustration
    3.      Comparison:the grass is always greener, isn’t it?

    One of my favourite phrases is: “The best things in life aren’t things”

    So what is really worth spending our money on? 

    As the researchers put it: "Our experiences are a bigger part of ourselves than our material goods. You can really like your material stuff. You can even think that part of your identity is connected to those things, but nonetheless they remain separate from you. In contrast, your experiences really are part of you. We are the sum total of our experiences." (Gilovich, Kumar, 2014).

    So think experiences over things. 

    And what better experience than going on a vacation, participating in a workshop, or perhaps going on retreat where our mind, body and spirit all get pampered? Science tells us that happiness isn’t the only advantage of leisure moments, the body is positively affected in the following ways too: 

  • Pre-boost: It’s the last day of work before vacation and you’re walking out of the office, heading to your well-deserved time off. You feel more relaxed, don’t you? Great news is that relaxationslows the heartbeat and stabilizes blood pressure (Merakou et al., 2015).

    Sleep:It’s now your first day off, what better than a bit of extra snooze? Getting quality sleep at the right times protects physical and mental health, quality of life, and safety. Studies demonstrate how short sleep duration is associated with obesity and weight gain (Sivak, 2006) and activate immune response similar to allergies and asthma (Aho, et al., 2013). In fact, sleeping more actually increases our longevity (Cappuccio, et al. 2010).

    Nutrition:Forget about the questionable habit of eating a sandwich in front of your computer! Away from the chaos of the office, you can now pay more attention to what you eat. Eating right can boost your energy and enhance your athletic performance and recovery (Rodriguez et al., 2009), protect your memory, reducing risk of late-life Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease (Eskelinen et al., 2011), and improve men’s fertility (Cutillas-Tolín et al., 2015). A healthy diet can make your skin glow (Bowe, et al., 2013) and reduce the risk of cancer (Steinmetz, Potter, 1996).

    Sun: If you’re lucky enough to get some sunwhile you are on your vacation, you won’t just go back to work with a desirable tan, but you’ll also be healthier and happier! Moderate sunlight exposure increases serotonin levels, which improves mood and focus (Legg, 2018) and can boost the quality of our sleep (Storoni, 2017). Sunlight is a primary source of Vitamin D, a hormone that promotes calcium absorption and is essential for bone growth and formation (Roizen and Roizen, 2014) and strengthens the immune system (Roizen and Roizen, 2014).

    Massage: In need of an extra boost on your vacation? Get a massage! Massage is shown to improve kidney and intestine functioning, reduce blood pressure, anxiety and pain (Embong et al., 2015)

  • When your vacation is over, remember to take all the benefits with you and start following healthy habits in daily life!

    Have a great day and book up your next vacation!