For many of us, it can be difficult to make the time to leave the office and classrooms behind and enjoy a long weekend at the lake or a few days up north. It feels impossible to clear your calendar and get out of your routine even if just for a day, but failing to do so could be harmful to your health.
According to a study of 13,000 middle-aged men at risk for heart disease, those who skipped vacations for five consecutive years were found to be 30 percent more likely to have a heart attack than those who took at least one week off each year. Even missing one year’s vacation was associated with a higher risk of heart disease and similar studies show that women who skip vacations are also more likely to develop heart disease.
Even missing one year’s vacation was associated with a higher risk of heart disease.
But, unfortunately, it’s commonplace for U.S. workers to not take full advantage of their available vacation days. In 2013, according to Oxford Economics, U.S. workers only used 77 percent of their paid time off. And, vacation use is at an all time low, the lowest it’s been in the last four decades.
Besides boosting your heart health, taking time away from your job to rest and relax allows you to come back to work feeling rejuvenated. You’ll feel better about yourself and your job, which leads to increased focus and productivity.
And it doesn’t have to be a full blown, extravagant vacation, there’s a reason the term “staycation” is gaining popularity. Short trips within your local area are great ways to relax and experience your community from a tourist’s point of view. Visit a museum, try a new restaurant or take part in one of Michigan’s many festivals.
These easy to remember tips can help you maximize your time off :
1. Enjoy the planning: According to research, you get as big of a boost from planning vacations as you do from taking them. Simply having something to look forward to can boost your mood and feel rewarding. Start the countdown on your calendar and enjoy the benefits of vacation up to eight weeks before your trip.
2. Relax and rejuvenate: Vacation can be a great opportunity to weave physical activity into your days. Since you don’t have to go to work, it’s easy to find time for both relaxation and activity. Keep your schedule loose but look for opportunities to try a new sport or take the time to revisit classics like tennis or golf. Even something as simple as a walk after meals or a swim in the lake can provide you with health benefits.
3. Take in some nature: A growing body of research links more time outdoors with a reduction in stress and depression. Besides giving you a boost in vitamin D, finding a serene lake or a wooded path to enjoy can help to enhance the senses and increase memory performance and attention spans. With more than 3,000 miles of coastline, 11,000 inland lakes and 79 state parks, Michigan is the perfect place to explore nature and enhance your health.
4. Disconnect from technology: Taking the day off doesn’t mean spending your whole day answering work emails. It’s hard to disconnect now that work is so portable but it’s important to do so. Maybe do a full detox and have a technology-free day. Use your time to read, cook a new recipe or try a new restaurant, walk around your city, take a painting class, write your friends snail mail. Your eyes,will thank you and you may even find that your posture improves and your tension headache subsides.
If you don’t have your next vacation planned, it’s time to pull out the calendar and request some time off. Your healthier heart and happier disposition will thank you!