The verdict is in: we’re working ourselves to death. Research has revealed that 89% of workers have experienced burnout or some of the symptoms of this debilitating condition within the last year. And with economic downturns only putting added pressure on our already packed schedules, the risk of a serious breakdown is at an all-time high. But, your fate isn’t sealed. What you need more than anything right now is a holiday.
Turns out that regular holidays—even just weekend getaways—could help you break the stressful cycle, giving you the mental reserves to return to the office rejuvenated, reenergised and healthier than ever before. Let’s take a deep dive into some of the very real benefits of clocking out for a full-on escape:
1. Time Off Can Power Up Your Ticker
Taking regular breaks from the 9-to-5 grind can help reduce your risk of developing metabolic syndrome. This cluster of health symptoms includes high blood sugar, high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels and excess belly fat. In most cases, this cascade of problems will put you on track for a stroke, heart disease, or type 2 diabetes.
Research has found that those who go on holiday more often are less likely to tick the boxes of this fatal cluster of symptoms. And those benefits tended to add up with each holiday the participants took. Additional research found that people who took more annual holidays were less likely to die from any cause. Banked a few leave days? Your life might depend on them.
2. Time Off Can Reduce Stress
Stress is a natural part of the work grind. However, excessive exposure to stressful situations can start to leave you feeling strung out. That’s because when you’re under pressure, your body ramps up levels of hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. Sure, these hormones will help you deal with the situation at hand, but repeated spikes will put you at risk of various health issues.
Fortunately, taking a holiday could be the fool-proof strategy you need to bust stress and prevent this everyday cycle from turning into the final nail in your coffin. In a study shared by the American Psychological Association, researchers found that you can flatten out your stress levels just by escaping environments and activities that you tend to associate with anxiety.
For instance, if you work from home, you could head to a forest cabin for a few days to drastically alter your environment. And not just the geographic switch-up will net you a mood boost. If you opt for natural surroundings, studies have shown that just two hours in these environments could improve your health, too.
3. Time Off Can Prevent Depression
A study conducted by the University of Calgary looked at the lifestyle of 900 lawyers working at different firms. What they found was that those who regularly engaged in active and social leisure activities—think: 5-a-side or spending a weekend away with friends—were able to reduce feelings of depression. Legal professionals who opted for passive activities like lounging on the couch while binging a TV show were less likely to tap into these free-time perks.
4. Time Off Can Improve Sleep
A study conducted by New Zealand Air looked into the lifestyle of 15 people jetting off to New Zealand for a getaway. The researchers gathered data from wrist devices worn by these jet setters, analysing how their holiday hours affected their general health and state of mind. Participants were also asked to keep track of their sleep schedules in a diary.
The results? Those found that it took only two or three days of time off for the participants to experience a massive improvement in the quality of their sleep. They also were able to ramp up their reaction times by as much as 80%. Better yet, those same participants were able to net three times more deep sleep after returning than before their trips.
The lesson? Next time you’ve got a few hours free, make sure you sleep on it. Want to make the most of your nap time during your next break? Check out our guide from a sleep scientist that’ll help you snooze like a pro.
5. Time Off Can Ramp Up Your Productivity
Many of us struggle to disengage from work even when we have time off. According to some research, heading out of the city for some R&R could help facilitate this important moment of detachment, giving you the mental space to truly achieve a break. Another study found that people a holiday won’t just help spike productivity but could also help lessen feelings of exhaustion.
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