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Take a vacation for your health and happiness

Spirit

Are you letting your vacation days pile up? There’s evidence that suggests you shouldn’t let them go to waste.

It turns out taking time off from your job or usual routine is good for your well-being and happiness. So good, in fact, that with Memorial Day quickly approaching, you may want to start planning your next long weekend away.

Here’s a look at the downside of uninterrupted workdays—and the upside of refreshing yourself with vacations.

What happens if you don’t take time off?

Every job has some stress—and it doesn’t magically disappear when you go home for the night. To be at our best, personally and professionally, all of us need time off beyond a night at home to recharge.

That’s especially true if your job is high-stress. Over time, the pressure from high-stress work can cause physical side effects. You may have headaches or stomachaches, a short temper or trouble sleeping. Your blood pressure may even creep up or your immune system could get weaker.

The health benefits of a vacation

Vacations, on the other hand, can boost your health, both emotionally and physically. Taking a vacation can:

  • Lift your spirits. Vacations ease depression and are a buffer against job stress, according to a study of more than 800 lawyers. A smaller study found that a brief, three-day vacation reduces levels of stress hormones.
  • Help your heart stay healthy. One of the largest studies ever on cardiovascular disease found that men who didn’t take vacations for several years were 30 percent more likely to die of a heart attack than those who did.
  • Boost productivity. Time off from work can actually make you more productive when you’re back. In one recent survey of more than 1,500 adults, most said when they returned to work after a vacation, they were more positive, energetic and motivated.

A boost for your worldview

Here’s another travel perk: Vacations expose you to new experiences and people. And if your journey takes you far from home, you’ll have a chance to learn about other cultures—and yourself—as you soak in the moment and reflect.

So here are two words for you: Happy trails. Don’t just dream about a dream vacation—take it.

Don’t let a vacation trip up your healthy habits

Taking a trip can be very fun, but it can also present some challenges. One of the biggest hurdles is practicing healthy eating on the road. Check out these tips on how to eat healthy on vacation.