One of the things many of us have been missing over the past few years is holidays, but now that the world is opening up again for travel and destinations that have been pretty quiet are now eagerly welcoming back tourists, taking a break has never been more appealing.
Holidays are not just a lovely way to spend time, they are fantastic for us on so many levels. Having a break from the daily grind gets us out of our usual routine, opens us up to new experiences and is good for us mentally and physically.
However, the stats tell us that for many Australians it’s been a long time between breaks. In fact, around 8 million Australians have accrued nearly 175 million days of leave over the past 12 months, up from 151 the previous year.i That’s a lot of missed holidays!
Whether you are one of those who hasn’t had much of a break lately or even if you’ve just got back from a trip and are planning your next one – there are a host of good reasons to take a holiday.
Holiday to keep the doctor away
Holidays have been proven to lower stress which has a myriad of benefits including addressing the risk of cardiovascular issues like stroke and heart attack. A study following more than 12,000 middle-aged men at high risk for heart disease, found those who took yearly breaks were less likely to die from any cause, including heart attacks and other cardiovascular issues.ii
It’s not just physical health that benefits, taking a break is unsurprisingly pretty good for mental health with even a short break of a few days having a powerful mood enhancing effect.iii
Travel to broaden the mind
Lifelong learning is not only good for our careers but also important for our personal growth. And travel is a learning experience like no other, whether you are heading to a new country or a different part of your city or state you’ll meet new people and experience a different way of life.
Travel is also the ultimate experience in mindfulness – you are living in the moment when you are on holiday. A break in routine takes us off autopilot and puts us in charge.
Having a break makes you more productive
If you are worried about the impact a break can have on your career – don’t be! Research by Boston Consulting Group found that professionals who took planned time off were significantly more productive than those who spent more time working.iv Holidays offer time for introspection, goal setting and a chance to recharge your batteries for a new lease on life.
Planning for a wonderful time
Not all vacations are created equal. Just taking any quickly thrown-together escape may not provide all the health and productivity benefits associated with taking a vacation. A poorly planned break can be a source of tension and stress, rather than the opposite.
So how do you get the best out of a break?
Be flexible – While it’s important to plan before you leave, have enough flexibility for discovery – be open to new experiences and willing to change the schedule to accommodate those spontaneous magical moments.
Don’t sweat the small stuff – Things can and do go awry once you are away but don’t let silly little things spoil the break.
Switch off – Don’t be tempted to check your emails or socials every few minutes – stay in the moment. A decent break from work will also reinforce that the office doesn’t need you 24/7 and that life comes first.
Watch the budget but have some allowances to splurge – Focus on experiences and the memories you’ll take home with you rather than what’s on sale at the gift shop or duty free.
And finally, don’t feel that a holiday must be a luxurious destination or for a long period of time to count. A change of scenery can be as good as a holiday – even taking a mini break and heading off for a weekend away to a lovely destination can provide all the benefits of a holiday. So, what are you waiting for? Start planning that next trip. The wide, wonderful world awaits!