Life can be a real beach, if you’re not really at the beach.

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What if we told you that there’s one healthy activity you could do to keep your heart healthy, improve work production, enjoy less stress in your relationships, feel happier and live longer. What would you guess?

When asked most people guessed some form of exercise or sleep. Those are pretty good guesses, but it’s something even easier, and even more fun! Anymore ideas?

I’ll give you a hint:
beach-vacation-relaxation-holidays
Vacation.

It’s true, but did you know that a large percentage of people who have access to PTO (paid time off) either don’t use it, or just use it as sick time? On top of that, how many of us use our vacation days for our kid’s school breaks or even when our kids get sick? Life can get so busy and it seems the first thing to be put on the back burner is vacation. We’ve all done it, said we’d wait until the kids are a bit older, or the weather is nicer. How many of us feel guilty leaving work? We put vacation off until the new employees are trained; just to have new employees follow them and so on and so forth. Many people find the solution is to take work with them on vacation. This seems like the best of both worlds, right? Studies have showed that up to 61% of people take their work with them when they leave the office. This is actually counterproductive, ideally you would be leaving the work behind as it’s important to switch off. Taking a technology break during this time would be a great idea as well.

Rest, relaxation, and stress reduction are very important for our health and well-being. Some much needed time off has significant health benefits such as; decreasing risk of heart disease and fewer arguments with your spouse. Additional benefits of vacations are more positive emotions and lower risk of a major depressive episode.

Another perk of vacations are improved relationships. According to Wisconsin Medical Journal – women who take vacations twice a year are “less likely to become tense, depressed, or tired and are more satisfied with their marriage,” and that the “odds of marital satisfaction decreased as the frequency of vacations decreased. These personal psychological benefits that lead to increased quality of life may also lead to improved work performance.”

Speaking of work, there are many benefits of taking a vacation at the work place too. Skipping out on vacation may be hindering you from completing your tasks. Working day in and day out without taking a moment to step out and disconnect can lead to no enjoyment or connection at work. Studies have also shown that not taking vacation causes people to feel resentment toward coworkers and increases likelihood of mistakes in the work place. Taking a vacation can help refresh motivation, boost productivity, improve memory skills and increase levels of happiness.

So next time you get the chance to get away, do it. Studies do show that by the third day of vacation most people will improve sleep quality and gain an hour of sleep by the 3rd day. Those effects can hold on for a minimum of 5 weeks after you return. Are you ready for a vacation?