Everyone loves a vacation. After months of the daily grind, a week or two at the cottage feels like a balm for the soul and exactly what the doctor ordered.
It’s easy to think that the “good feelings” associated with vacation are about what we don’t do. They’re the result of NOT working, not commuting, not rushing, not stressing.
But what if that’s not the whole story?
What if the value of our vacations isn’t about what we give up, but what we do that we don’t normally? What if it’s not about what we stop, but what we start?
Sleep. Some 40 % of north Americans don’t sleep more than seven hours. During holidays, going to bed early, sleeping in, and napping in a hammock are all par for the course. Sleep detoxes the brain, resets hormones, strengthens the immune system, repairs our bodies and brains so we can take on the next day. And we don’t do enough of it during work periods.
Exercise. Vacations afford us the time to do the physical activities we love. There’s time to hike, kayak, canoe, walk around beautiful cities or interesting festivals. All this movement, creates increased blood flow to tissues, eventually relaxing tense muscles and lubricating stiff joints. Even if you don’t like to move, vacations often force you to.
Being outside. So much of our working days are spent indoors breathing recycled air. Our vacation time usually gets us out of the house and into the outdoors. The sun gets to work on our skin making valuable vitamin D, the fresh air gets to clean out our lungs and our eyes get to feast on the natural colours of blue and green which can balance our hormones and increase sleep quality.
Laughing. There is no better medicine than laughter. A big laugh relieves stress, boosts the immune system, decreases stress hormones, and more. And laughs always seem bigger and more frequent on vacation.
It seems that many of the things we do in our vacation time are also things that support and maintain good health. The trouble is we’re only doing them a few times a year!
If you’re taking time off this summer, enjoy it. But while you’re there, ask yourself: Is there a way to bring some of this goodness home with me?