The Great Escape

Wendy Abram

The three pillars of health that make up a balanced person are physical, mental and spiritual. It’s difficult to imagine consciously abandoning our physical health by not brushing our teeth or neglecting to bathe because the effects of these neglects are immediate—though they can be just as detrimental to our state of wellness, if not more so. Mental self-care is incredibly essential for the well being of a healthy person and sometimes that means giving ourselves a well deserved break. This is not referring to a mid-day coffee break or a weekend getaway—this break refers to a full-fledged escape.

The word escape may conjure up feelings of running away from one’s problems or escaping a dangerous situation. However, it is crucial to create distance from areas in our lives that create major or minor stress in order to gain some perspective. According to Forbes magazine, the benefits of employees taking vacation time include numerous benefits. In fact, the benefits of taking time off to recharge are too great to ignore. But what exactly are those health benefits?

Stress Reduction

A study published in 2015 by the American Psychological Association(1) showed that when individuals take vacations, they are taken out of environments they associate with stress and anxiety. Thus they are able to increase productivity long after their vacation is over, both inside and outside of the workplace.

Improving Relationships with Others

When we tune out of our work (including our digital devices) and engage in relaxing experiences, we are able to connect to those around us in a deeper way. An international researchers group led by Purdue University’s Xinran Lehto studied vacation time in relation to family bonding. This study concluded that family vacations contribute positively to communication and solidarity between family members and create what is known as a "crescive bond", a shared experience that encourages growth(2).

Higher Quality of Sleep

With more job related responsibilities and stress come late nights at work, not to mention the anxieties of work-related thoughts swirling around our heads in the moments when we are trying to fall asleep. When we cannot turn off the mental chatter of the mind, it can make falling and staying asleep quite difficult. When we take a break from our day to day stressors, we can learn to replenish our nervous systems by taking extra time to rest(3). In addition, a reset of healthy sleep patterns can carry us through our work week with more energy leading to more productivity.

Higher Job Productivity

With higher quality sleep, one ultimately reaps the sweet side effect of greater productivity. In addition, vacation time recharges a person’s energy restores. When one is consistently depleting their resources, they aren’t being as productive as they have potential to be which can lead to problems at the work place. Stepping away from the computer and into a relaxing situation can recharge one’s brain power in order to return as a more effective problem solver. Another benefit in relationship to productivity is greater creativity. When one is exposed to a new place or experience, it can in turn generate innovation and stimulate imagination(4).

When we take care of our mental health by escaping stressors of routine life, we are investing in ourselves. Vacations away or a relaxing "stay-cations" can reward us with the break we all deserve in order to return to our work feeling rejuvenated and prepared to handle anything that comes our way.

(1) Retrieved from http://www.healthnet.com/

(2) Fu, Xiaoxiao. Lehto, Xinran. Park, Ounjoung. (2014) "What Does Vacation do to our Family? Contrasting the Perspectives of Parents and Children."

(3) Whitbourne, Susan Krauss. (2010) "The Importance of Vacations to our Physical and Mental Health."

(4) Folkman, Joseph. Zenger, Jack. (2015) "Are We More Productive When We Have More Time Off?"