THOU MUST VACATION
7 REASONS WHY VACATIONS ARE A “MUST HAVE” AND HOW TO MAXIMIZE THEM
Who doesn’t love a great vacation??? I think the majority of us would love to broaden our travels and go on more trips. However, the astounding facts are out there. According Radio Canada International, only 33% of Canadians are using their measly two weeks of vacation time. It is incredible to think that two thirds of our nation’s workers are not even taking two weeks of vacation a year! Our neighbours to the south aren’t much better. CNBC tells us that 52% of Americans don’t use all of their vacation time and 24% didn’t use ANY of their vacation time in 2018. Considering our European friends quite easily maximize their 6 plus weeks of vacation, we are missing out big time in North America! It’s time to start making our FUN times as important as our work ☺
When you are making choices about how to spend your life, (and if you need some convincing), here are a few benefits that vacations give us:
1. ENERGY - Vacations Boost Your Energy Reserves! Studies clearly show that we replenish our energy stores when we go on a holiday. Taking an adventure vacation can also give you a natural high. Discovering something new, doing something exciting, and having a change of scenery, boost our levels of dopamine, the feel good hormone. When we do return back to work, not only are we refreshed and have more energy, but we have that sense of renewal as well.
2. STRESS REDUCTION – According to the American Psychological Association, vacations succeed in reducing stress by getting people out of the environments and activities they associate with stress and anxiety. The effects of reducing stress show up in our bodies. The University of Vienna found that after taking time away, vacationers had fewer stress-related physical complaints such as headaches, backaches, and heart irregularities. They continued to feel physically better and less stressed for up to five weeks.
3. YOUR HEART HEALTH – Various studies show there are cardiovascular health benefits of taking a vacation and risks for not taking time out. One study reported that men at risk for heart disease who skipped vacations for five consecutive years, were 30% more likely to suffer heart attacks than those who took at least a week off each year. Even missing one year's vacation was associated with a higher risk of heart disease. Women have similar results. Women who took a vacation once every three years were almost eight times more likely to develop heart disease, have a heart attack, or die of a coronary-related cause; than those who took at least two vacations a year. Vacations have also been shown to decrease blood pressure and improve cholesterol levels. The bottom line – vacations are good for our hearts and our health!
4. IMPROVED PRODUCTIVITY - In our endless rush to be productive, we often undermine the ability to perform at our very best. When we are performing at peak levels, we get more done in less time. However, it takes energy, creativity, and laser focus to be truly productive. High-level professionals who were required to take time off were significantly more productive overall than those who spent more time working. Vacations instigate productivity. When you take a vacation, you are more productive. When you are more productive, you're happier. When you are happier, you excel at what you do. Bottom line - in taking vacations, you will return with added creativity and happiness, ultimately improving your productivity.
5. BOOST YOUR MENTAL HEALTH - People who take vacations find a lift in their moods, emotions, their inner peace and joy. Not only does this personally benefit you, it also has a positive effect on everyone around you. Whether you spend time on your vacation exploring, relaxing, mastering a new skill, challenging yourself with adventure or connecting with loved ones, you will boost your health and well-being.
6. BONDING – Vacations help us build better relationships. Having shared experiences with others, deepens our bonds and creates lasting memories. Relationships are what really matter in life, and time is our greatest non-renewable resource. You can’t bond with others unless you put time into relationships. Why not maximize your time, relationships, and fun in those special shared moments?
7. MORE HAPPINESS – When thinking about where to prioritize your dollars, consider that vacation experiences in general provide more happiness than material goods. People talk about their experiences more than they do their material things. When a person buys an experience, they buy a gift that keeps on giving because these experiences continue to live on in the stories we tell.
MAXIMIZE YOUR VACATION:
1. RESEARCH the fun stuff! It’s worth it to find out the happenings and events that are going on at your destination. There will be no regrets of realizing you have missed out on something fun after you get home. You will enjoy your location and activities so much more when you know some of the background, history, and interesting facts behind what you are seeing or doing.
2. PLAN AHEAD – Book your hotels, bed and breakfasts, and main activities. Planning can prevent a lot of unnecessary stress. You will also avoid the disappointment of not being able to enjoy your favourite activities because they are already sold out.
3. SOMETHING NEW - Include something new on your trip. A new location, something you have never done before such as zip lining, attending a chocolate workshop, exploring ice caves, or seeing a cultural performance. New activities boost our creativity and maximize our fun.
4. SOMETHING YOU LOVE – Do things that give you happiness and fulfillment. Trips and holidays are meant to recharge us and fill our inner tanks.
5. BLANK SPACES & DOWN TIME - Leave some blank spaces in your vacation. You may discover something new you would like to explore while you are there or enjoy an activity or location that only the locals know about. It is also important to have some intentional down time. Part of the purpose of getting away is to re-charge. It’s great to have a chill day, to grab that favourite book of yours, or enjoy a day in the sun. Although it’s strategic to plan your main events, allow some fudge room too.
6. CONNECT! - Whether you are traveling with people or making a solo journey, traveling is a great way to connect with others. You can meet the most interesting people on your journeys and sometimes they remain life long friends. Be open and intentional about making great connections.
7. PICTURES AND VIDEOS – By taking videos and pictures, this will make the memories stay alive long after you return home. It will help you to savour your experience, and make your vacation immortalized in your memory. Simply recalling these memories can have lasting health benefits long after your vacation has ended. Vacations are truly the gift that keeps on giving.