Summer is my favorite time of year! When you hear “summer,” what comes to mind?
I think of vacationing. I see me, on the beach, relaxing and surrounded by emerald-colored water and white sand while collecting shells, paddle boarding and watching the sunset — just unplugging and recharging.
And here’s some great news: taking a vacation is good for your body, mind and spirit.
Can you buy a ticket to a better mood? Hop a flight to a healthier heart? As it turns out, yes, you can!
Numerous studies have shown taking time away from the job can have physical and psychological benefits. People who take vacations have lower stress, less risk of heart disease, a better outlook on life and more motivation to achieve goals. Across the board, there’s evidence that vacations can improve everything from blood pressure to energy levels. And that does not just apply to wellness escapes; you don’t need to splurge on a destination spa or book a trendy hotel.
Regardless of the trip’s duration, one way to amplify the upside is to spend time in nature. We are blessed with so much natural beauty on the Gulf Coast, and yes, a staycation is a fun way to unplug without having to travel far.
Need more of a nudge to take that well-deserved break? Here are some ways a vacation can improve your health and well-being:
If you notice feeling more present, more stimulated and more tuned into the moment while away from home, it was not your imagination. When we travel, we usually are breaking our routine, which means we can’t operate on autopilot. That decreased familiarity allows us to be more fully present, to really “wake up.” While mindfulness can be its own reward, it also reduces stress and increases happiness.
It goes without saying that vacations reduce stress, which is known to negatively impact blood pressure, cholesterol levels and other health metrics. Even knowing that a vacation is coming can keep stress at bay.
BOOSTING YOUR BRAIN:
It is well known that relaxation can amp up your creativity. Science has found that the “aha” moment usually arrives when you’re free from tension and anxiety. That is why you have your best ideas in the shower, on a walk — or on vacation.
Upon returning from vacation, workers often are more focused and productive. Time off can tune up a well-functioning brain.
LIFTING YOUR MOOD:
Psychologists call the times when it feels like you are the most present, experiencing transcendent moments of pure joy and elation, “peak human experience.” It doesn’t usually happen in the office, but it does on a vacation.
Neuroscientists have found that brain structure is altered by chronic exposure to the stress hormone cortisol, which can be a major contributing factor to anxiety and depression. Feelings of calm arise from time away, which allows the body and mind to heal in ways it could not if it were still under pressure.
Taking time away from the stresses of work and daily life can improve our health, motivation, relationships, job performance and perspective and give us the break we need to return refreshed and better equipped to manage whatever situations arise. So go ahead; book that trip. Wishing you a happy, healthy summer!
Karol Brandt is an executive host with Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort, as well as co-author of the Amazon best-seller “The Struggle is Real: Finally Break the Dieting Cycle, Transform Your Mind and Body, and Evolve into The Person You Have Always Wanted to Be” and the “30-Day Evolve Challenge Journal.” Contact Brandt by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, Facebook/ The Struggle Is Real or Instagram at karolbrandtnola.