Hit the brakes! Why rest and relaxation are vital for your health and wellbeing

Women work for an average of eight hours and 39 minutes a day, as published in the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap report, which covers 29 countries.

This is around an hour more than men, although the latter spend longer hours in paid work. Regardless of whether you work in an office or at home, taking a break is vital for your health and wellbeing.

Breaks – ranging from small pauses to walk or exercise throughout the day right through wellness breaks or vacations, help people stay motivated, battle fatigue, and help prevent burnout. The following studies may inspire you to make a little ‘me time’, which is especially important if you think you just can’t afford to take a little break. 

A vacation can boost your heart health

study by Syracuse University Professors (Hruska & Gump, 2019) found that taking a vacation has measurable benefits for one’s heart health. Results showed that people who went on holiday more frequently in the 12 months previous to the study had a lower risk for metabolic syndrome (a collection of risk factors for cardiovascular disease).

Metabolic symptoms are modifiable, so that making it a point to take frequent breaks to renew and recharge yourself can have important effects on your long-term health. 

Green spaces can lower your stress levels

Studies have shown that even a few minutes in a green space can significantly lower levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. The latter, when present at high levels, can contribute to a host of diseases and mental conditions—including heart disease, obesity, Type 2 diabetes, anxiety, and depression.

If you are more into the color blue than green (in other words the sea instead of the mountains), fear not; the benefits are identical. As stated by fashion and beauty entrepreneur Nina Seuss – who is a fervent fan of vacationing in Mykonos, Greece, the chilled vibe, beautiful views, and knockout gastronomy of this seaside destination make it easy to feed body, mind, and soul.

Of course, beach getaways are also the perfect opportunity to don your best swim and summer wear and take magnificent pics to remember the experience. 

Taking a break could prolong your life

A 40-year study published in the Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging has found that if you want to live long, having a ‘healthy lifestyle’ (in other words, eating well and exercising regularly) will not compensate for working too hard and not taking breaks.

The results showed that those who took three weeks or less of annual vacation had a 37% higher chance of dying in a given time frame than those who took over three weeks. In the study, participants who took shorter vacations worked more and slept less than those who took longer breaks. The researchers recommended that those with stressful lifestyles take part in stress management programs and take active steps to reduce stress levels. 

Taking a holiday is about so much more than seeing the world and having a good time. As found in recent studies, it is a key way to battle the negative health effects of stress. Try to take various breaks throughout the year and get as much time off as you can. Not only will you feel healthier but also more motivated to keep giving your best at work and in your personal and social life.