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The Mental Health Benefits of Taking a Vacation

After two years of increased stress due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are all in need of a break. However, many of us find it difficult to step away and take a vacation. But planning and taking a vacation has numerous mental health benefits including lower stress, less risk of heart disease, a better outlook on life, and more motivation to achieve goals. And you don’t necessarily need to travel across the country or an ocean to experience these benefits! Regardless of whether you take a break at home or decide to venture to another city, here are five mental health benefits of taking a vacation.

  1. Vacations make you healthier and happier. When you are doing something that makes you happy, your brain gives you a boost of dopamine, the hormone that makes you feel good. Studies have also shown that regular vacations lead to decreased risks of heart disease and depression.
  2. Vacations reduce stress. Taking a vacation provides a break from your normal daily routine and a chance to recharge and focus on your overall wellness. Distancing yourself from the daily stressors in your life also allows you have a fresh perspective when you return from your break.
  1. Vacations make you resilient. Vacations don’t always go according to plan, especially if you are traveling. Travel delays, coordinating logistics, and unforeseen expenses can outweigh the positive benefits. But overcoming these challenges helps you to become more resilient and teaches life skills that serve you well even after your vacation has ended. 
  1. Vacations help you to connect with others. When you travel or try something new, you inevitably encounter strangers who may look, act, and speak differently than you do. Vacations offer you a great opportunity to learn about other cultures and ways of life, even just a few hours from your home. Take time to listen and connect with people. 
  1. Vacations decrease burnout. You are less likely to experience burnout at work or at home if you take regular time to relax. Stepping away can improve your focus and productivity.

The bottom line is that taking time away from the demands of work and daily life can improve your health, motivation, relationships, job performance, and perspective. A vacation can give you the break you need to return to your life refreshed and better able to handle stressors when they arise. For more tips and tools for managing stress, visit www.PennFoundation.org.