There are many reasons to travel. You may have to visit the relatives around the holidays, or you might have a wedding that you can’t miss. But one of the best reasons for traveling is taking a break from it all and relaxing.
The good news is that studies show vacations are good for your mental health. You probably already knew taking some time off work can be a good thing, and lots of people take “mental health days.” But traveling can do a lot more than just give you time away from work. If you make the most of your vacation days and avoid the typical stress of a trip, you can improve your mental health on your next vacation.
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How Vacation Days Help Your Mental Health
Having fun on a trip will definitely help you feel better, but as CBS Los Angeles explains, here are several examples of specific ways traveling helps your mental health:
- Reduce your stress level
- Improve your mood
- Give you a fun way to exercise
- Strengthen your relationships with the people who accompany you
The right vacation can even help improve your cognitive function. Your mind is stimulated by new sights, sounds, tastes, and experiences. This stimulation can help improve your creativity and productivity, help you perform better at your job and hobbies, and improve your self-esteem.
Psychcentral.com also shows that traveling can make you happier and improve your emotional stability.
Keeping Your Vacation Stress-Free
With all that a good vacation can do for your mental health, you’re probably thinking about those nightmare vacations that made things more stressful for your life. Traveling the wrong way can be a bad thing, so here is a list of ways to keep stress out of your vacation.
- Take time off work every few months. If you save all your days for one massive vacation and something goes wrong, you still have other days available.
- Use a travel agent for the stressful work of choosing flights, hotels, and so on.
- Head to an underrated destination. This can help you feel clever while avoiding those annoying, overcrowded locales.
- Don’t let work intrude on your vacation time. Use that email feature to send “Out of office” replies and include who in the office can help while you’re away.
Where Should You Go?
If you’re not sure where to begin and don’t want to use a travel agent, start small.
Maybe there’s a nearby city you’ve been wanting to visit, or maybe there’s a B&B package that’s calling your name through Groupon. Oftentimes short vacation trips are the best way to get your feet wet in the world of travel. If you’re into wine, look for nearby vineyards or plan a destination wine trip. Places like Napa and Sonoma Counties cater to travelers and people who love to enjoy food, wine, and nature. More than likely you can find a great AirBnB option, and with Uber, you can have all the wine you want! No matter the preference, there are ways to make a vacation work for you, rather than you working for the vacation.
Making The Most Of Your Time Off Work
Remember, you only get so much time away from your desk. Rather than stress about making those days “count,” there are a few tips for getting the most from your vacation days.
The Frugal Travel Guy teaches the importance of when you take your vacation days. Unless your employer bans it, try to plan your vacation days around weekends and holidays. Even if you have to take unpaid time off, leaving on Thursday night and not coming back until Monday afternoon can turn two vacation days into a four-day vacation.
No matter how long that vacation ends up being, you might be dreading coming back to work. Since the point of traveling is to help your mental health, this can be counterproductive as you start to stress out about returning. That’s why you need plan ahead before you leave. Do as much work as you can prior to your departure. Then delegate all the tasks that you can so they can get done while you’re away.
Take Those Vacation Days
As a whole, Americans don’t take enough time off. That leads to lower productivity, more stress, and ultimately can hurt your physical health as well. That’s why you need to take those vacations. Traveling can improve your mental health in several ways if you can keep your vacation stress-free and make the most of your time off.