Take a Holiday for Your Health

Mental Health

Dr. Happy

The more you achieve, the happier you’ll be.

Set and work towards meaningful goals, and you’ll enjoy satisfaction and happiness.

Work hard; keep going; don’t give up.

In fact, the harder you work and the more you achieve the better your life will be in every possible way.

And yet…

We are working harder and longer and we’re more stressed than we’ve ever been; employees list burnout as one of their top concerns.

Tiredness, exhaustion, lack of energy and loss of pleasure plague so many of us so much of the time.

There’s no doubt it can feel great to accomplish that which we’ve worked hard for; there’s also no doubt that there’s a limit to how much we can do and if we don’t take care, we can and will suffer.

So, let’s pause for a minute…

In fact, maybe we should pause for more than a minute…

Why? Because research clearly suggests there are multiple health and mental-health benefits to taking breaks.

According to one study, taking annual leave provides the following benefits:

  • Reduced stress
  • Improved mood
  • Improved social life
  • Greater workplace productivity
  • Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease
  • And even living a longer and better life

In other studies, other benefits have also been identified including increased likelihood of receiving a pay rise or a bonus, improved sleep, enhanced energy and a boost to optimism and motivation on return to work.

The findings supporting the benefits of taking a holiday are so strong and so positive that Shawn Achor, one of the leading management consultants in the US, has been known to state that the best thing you can do to boost your workplace productivity is to leave the office!

So, take care of yourself and be your best by taking all our annual leave. Holidays are so refreshing and revitalising that even though we’re away from our desks for a period of time, they’re well worth it because we return to our jobs with more energy and inspiration than we had before leaving.

But it’s also worth noting that there are other ways we can take breaks and do some good for our health and wellbeing. So much so that I frequently recommend people don’t just take one big annual holiday each year but rather, that they take multiple “mini-breaks” throughout the year, month, week and even day!

How can you take a holiday within a day?

Well, maybe not a holiday, but you can certainly take a break; and regular breaks are important for our health and wellbeing.

Summarising a number of studies in this area, research has shown that those who take regular physical breaks (e.g. standing up and going for a walk, stretching etc) are more likely to avoid injuries and strains common, especially, to those who spend prolonged periods sitting. Further, taking regular mental breaks (by, for example, practising meditation or just resting from thinking) are less likely to experience “decision fatigue” and more likely to maintain engagement and motivation throughout the day. Finally, regular breaks have been found to be associated with increased creativity, productivity and even learning.

The bottom line is, we’re not built to maintain performance for prolonged periods of time. In order to function well and to “be switched on”, we need to make the effort (at times) to “switch off”. Taking holidays throughout the year is an obvious and great way to do this; but taking shorter, even more regular breaks is also incredibly beneficial for our health and wellbeing.

Dr Happy

Please note: Dr Happy's blog is general advice only. For further information on this topic, please consult your healthcare professional.

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