How many times have you gone on vacation and returned feeling relaxed and rejuvenated? Traveling is one of the best ways to release stress because it takes you away from your problems, both mentally and physically. In fact, just planning a vacation can help take your mind off issues that cause anxiety and tension. Dreaming about where you'd like to visit and what you'd like to do when you get there can offer a welcome distraction from tedious day-to-day annoyances.
How Traveling Helps Release Stress
People often get overwhelmed with work, daily chores, and routines that are filled with obligation. Vacations, on the other hand, offer an opportunity to spend relaxing time with family and loved ones. Even a solo trip can allow individuals to enjoy time away from the everyday pressures of life. Just a short furlough can provide relaxation time and recovery. In fact, travel can help relieve stress in the following ways:
Exposure to Nature
Most workspaces are designed to be compact and functional. Although this is practical in one sense, it can leave people without exposure to any natural elements for extended periods of time. Traveling and vacation time gives people an opportunity to experience outdoor elements such as sunshine that they have been missing.
Exposure to the outdoors is good for your health. Being outside immersed in natural elements and green spaces can decrease blood pressure, increase attention, and even reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Fresh air can increase a person's alertness, and reduce symptoms of nausea. Not to mention that sunshine is a mood elevator and can help people increase their intake of vitamin D.
Another reason why vacationing is good for unwinding is because it gets you moving. Whether you decide to play with your kids, walk around, or go for a swim, you can experience the health benefits of exercise. Staying active helps reduce fatigue and boosts energy levels, reduces symptoms of stress and anxiety, and even helps you get a better night's sleep.
Get out there and go mountain climbing, walk around an amusement park, or toss around a ball. You'll notice that doing the things you enjoy helps relieve stress.
Time to Take Care of Yourself
Sometimes people need some time alone. When you work each day and juggle a jam-packed schedule, it can be hard to find time to check in with yourself and tend to your own needs.
Vacation time is a great way to press the pause button. You can put your cell phone, laptops, and other distractions in order to to check in with your mental, emotional, and social well-being. And getting away from all of your obligations provides you with the time to focus on self-care. This is the time for you to relax and put yourself first.
Health Benefits of Travel
According to a 2022 study from the Journal of Frontiers in Sports and Active Living, vacations help people reduce stress for a variety of reasons. The study included over 500 participants and measured what aspects of vacation actually make people happy. Participants either stayed home for their vacation or traveled somewhere, and answered survey questions to measure their well-being one month before, immediately after, and one month post their vacation.
The results showed that people who traveled away from their regular home environments for vacation experienced statistically significant higher rates of well-being. In addition, participants that traveled for their vacation reported higher rates of relaxation, fewer thoughts about stressors, increased life satisfaction, and improved overall well-being.
Other health improvements associated with vacation time include:
A Boost in Mood
When you head out on vacation, you might notice an improvement in your mood. Travel and leisure time is often filled with social activities that allow you to connect with loved ones, have fun, and share a few laughs. All of which can boost your levels of dopamine, the happiness chemical in the brain, and reduce your stress. And, at least one study from the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (IJERPH) has found that these beneficial effects of a one-week vacation can last until 30 days after your vacation has ended.
Have you even come home from work and found yourself repeatedly thinking about events from your day? It's called rumination, and it involves constant, and often negative, thoughts that can impact your overall well-being. Research shows that vacation time can decrease rumination, and help people stop dwelling on aspects of the past that are upsetting. When you're enjoying the present moment, you might find that it's easier to keep your thoughts focused on the moment in front of you.
Improved Creativity and Work Performance
If you are tired it is hard to keep motivation levels high. And, while you may enjoy your job, you also need time to relax and play. Think of it as recharging your mental battery. Research has found that vacations can boost a person's creativity. When you feel relaxed and refreshed, your mind has more room to experiment with different ways of getting things done. In addition, travel experiences have been found to improve work performance levels by increasing a general person's skills, self-efficacy, and communication.
Improved Heart Health
Research has found that travel and vacation time can support heart health. In fact, a one-week vacation can reduce both blood pressure and heart rate, as well as improve cardiac function.
In addition, the Framingham Heart Study, a landmark study in heart health, found that women who took only one vacation once every six years or less were almost eight times as likely to develop coronary heart disease or have a heart attack as their counterparts who took at least two vacations per year. For men, those who didn't take vacations had a 32% higher chance of dying from a heart attack than those who did take vacations.
A Better Night's Rest
According to research from the IJERPH study mentioned above, vacation traveling can also have sleep benefits. For example, time away from the hustle and bustle of work environments can improve sleep quality. And, you might find that you have more time to dedicate to practicing better sleep habits during your vacation. In addition, leisure time might allow you to get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep a night you need in order to maintain your well-being.
Tips To Help You Enjoy Your Vacation
Are you ready to start planning your next vacation? It's never too early to start. Use these tips to organize some time away to support your health and well-being.
Travel Somewhere New
Where is one place that you've always wanted to visit? If your budget allows, maybe that's a place you want to head to on your next vacation. Research shows that traveling for your vacation can help you experience greater health and wellness benefits than if you decide to relax at home. If you are able to make the investment, plan the getaway you've always wanted and allow yourself to have some real fun.
Enjoy Time Outside
During your time away, increase your access to nature, green spaces, and fresh air. Most importantly, taking a hike in the woods, or simply going for a walk outdoors is budget-friendly. Try to enjoy time outside to give yourself an added boost to your health.
Not really an outdoorsy person? Don't worry, you don't have to go camping or head intot he deep woods to experience nature. Take a trip to the beach and dip your toes in the water, hike a trail in a nature preserve, or visit a park or landmark. You can even just spend an hour or so outside in the fresh air in your neighborhood.
Vacations are about relaxing. You need time for yourself to tend to your own needs in order to be the best person, parent, or partner you can be. This vacation, take some time for yourself.
Practice self-care activities, like taking a relaxing bath or trying a soothing face mask. Eat foods that make you happy, and give yourself time to rest whenever you need it. Anything that you do to take care of your body, even if it's as simple as stretching when you wake up in the morning or putting on your favorite outfit, is a form of self-care.
If you haven't already planned some time away this year, consider doing so now. Studies have shown that traveling is a good way to release stress, and it can improve your overall health. In addition, it can improve your productivity and reaction time on the job. Make the investment now to reap the rewards later.