Doctor’s Orders: Take a Vacation

Melanie Rovinsky

With just about five weeks of the semester under your belt and a depleted bank account from tuition and books, it’s hard to imagine doing anything other than sleeping over spring break. However, recent medical studies show that going on frequent vacations (at least once a year) can not only relieve stress but actually increase life longevity.

Vacationing impacts men and women differently. A study in the Wisconsin Medical Journal revealed that women who take trips and partake in various leisure activities experience fewer bouts of depression and moments of extreme tension. Women who take two or more vacations a year also experience higher marital satisfaction than their non-vacationing counterparts. Men benefit from periods of relaxation too. An article published in the Vegetarian Times, Inc., stated that men who take annual vacations reduce their overall risk of death by 20 percent and their risk of death from heart disease by 30 percent.

In addition to keeping you healthy, regular vacationing can also improve the quality of your professional and social life. According to an article released by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, vacations promote creativity, prevent mental burnout, strengthen interpersonal relationships, and improve job performance.

Momentarily removing yourself from the daily stresses and pressures of life allows you to face them head-on when you return back to reality.

Americans spend significantly less time on vacation than other nationalities. Documentary producer and author John de Graaf observed that Europeans work about 300 hours less than Americans do each year. Consequently, Americans are twice as likely to suffer from heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes. The above mentioned study in the Wisconsin Medical Journal claimed that the average American only receives two weeks of annual paid vacation, compared to an entire month that is given in many other countries.

Vacations do not deliver medical advantages if work or professional stressors are sitting in the plane seat next to you. As difficult as it may seem, you must leave behind your cell phone, laptop and briefcase if you truly want to reap the benefits of “getting away.” Even small trips lasting only a day or two can help your body and mind refocus and rejuvenate.