There’s more to a holiday than sipping a Piña Colada on a sunny, tropical island. Taking a break has far more positive health effects than you may realise.
In fast-paced, high-pressure jobs like emergency services, it’s critical to give yourself down time. And this isn’t easy to do in everyday life.
The value of blocking out time for holidays
Travel has healing properties. Just watch Eat Pray Love and you’ll know what we mean. It expands your mind and helps you adapt to new situations. You become flexible and able to handle ups and downs of life.
New experiences increase cognitive flexibility, which keeps your mind sharp. This is extremely beneficial for people who lead quite repetitive lives. Studies have shown a connection between travel and an increase in creativity, a deeper sense of cultural awareness and personal growth. And according to the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, those who travel and study abroad tend to be more open and emotionally stable.
A holiday can improve your mood by reducing the stress hormone, cortisol, and adrenaline, which many emergency service workers struggle with. By minimising this hormone, you’re less tired, anxious, and depressed. Interestingly, a US study found that women who take regular holidays are significantly less likely to suffer from depression. So, travelling isn’t just for fun. It removes you from the reminder of your daily stressors.
Giving your body a ‘holiday’ from everyday stress can also prevent chronic inflammation, which leads to diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity. By strengthening your immunity, you can ward off potential illness.
Sleep deficiencies and weight issues also plummet in regular travellers. For people with sleep disorders, a belly fat battle isn’t far behind. It’s because sleep affects the secretion of hormones, leptin and ghrelin, which control hunger and fat stores. In a recent study by Expedia, 85% of world travellers were more rested after a trip and slept an extra hour per night.
The perfect work / holiday balance
The happy hormones that people experience when exercising can be felt with travel, too. New experiences give us, as humans, hope. Think of it as an optimism boost. Integrate a two-week break every six months and a weekend away every three months.
Think of travelling like developing branches of a tree. The new experiences are like watering the tree, boosting cognitive health, by helping your brain develop parts of nerve cells called dendrites.