We all know how beneficial a holiday can be on some level, as we take time off work to empty our heads and simply drink in a new location – whether sandy beaches or major European cities. But as it turns out, holidays can be doing a lot more for both our mental and physical health than we might think. Here are some of the key ways in which that week or two off can positively impact you and your body.
Improved mental health
Many major health benefits to visiting a far-flung destination can be found in our mental health, as holidays not only mitigate the onset of stress but can also actively combat diseases like depression. Holidays are scientifically proven to reduce blood pressure levels, with tested holidaymakers also scoring higher on stress resilience tests after their holiday than before. Holidays can also help the brain produce serotonin, providing a medium-term benefit to those suffering mental illness.
Refreshment and recharge
Even without the empirical effects on the mind illustrated above, getting away and experiencing something new is a pure-and-simple energy boost. After spending many of our days fulfilling the same routines in familiar locations, life can start to drag a little even at the best of times – but exposure to new places and experiences can re-invigorate us, as we regain a sense of discovery and wonder. So, booking that tour of Egypt could well help recharge your batteries, while giving you life-long memories in the process.
Indeed, that sense of discovery and wonder can be key to our creative practice. In our usual routines, we are not often exposed to new and interesting things, apart from through our screens – but seeing the majesty of the Taj Mahal in person, or taking a trek around the edifying Mont Blanc, can provide sparks of inspiration and trigger creative thinking.
When we settle into a routine, we learn less and less with each passing day – which has the unnerving effect of making time seem to pass by that little bit quicker. This is partly because there’s less to learn, and less to remember, meaning our brains often don’t bother tracking much of our day at all. But introducing ourselves to things we don’t know, or places we’ve never been, re-engages the learning and memory centres of our brains, stretching our sense of time and making our days feel much longer. You heard it here first – holidays make you live longer.
Longer life expectancy
Joking aside, there is evidence to suggest that holidays may actually improve life expectancy. In studies relating to heart disease, it’s been found that men with coronary artery disease who don’t take regular holidays are nearly a third more likely to suffer a fatal heart attack than those who do – and that women who didn’t holiday at least every six years were up to eight times more likely to die an earlier death than those who holidayed every six months.
Dennis Relojo-Howell is the managing director of Psychreg.