Why We Feel So Good On Vacation

Going On Holiday Has An Amazing Biological Effect On Your Mind And Body

Scientists have found that the buzz we get from going on holiday can provide important health benefits including genetic changes that lower stress levels and boost the immune system. These effects, they say can last for a month.

It usually only takes a matter of hours on a holiday to wonder why we bother dragging ourselves into the office day after day. While the glow of a holiday is pretty much wiped out within a week of being back at work, a new study suggests the “vacation effect” can actually last for as long as a month and have some serious health benefits.

Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco and Harvard discovered that taking a vacation of just six days can bring about genetic changes that reduces stress, boosts the immune system and decreases some of the risk factors for dementia and depression, with the health advantages visible for 30 days.

The experiment that gave the data saw 94 healthy women sent on a six-day retreat in California, all in the name of science. They were given blood tests before and after their trip and filled in surveys on their mental state. Those who had been on the retreat expressed feelings of well-being even a month after their trip.

The effect on 20,000 genes were analysed and the beneficial results, especially in genes that control stress and the immune system, surpassed expectations.

Study author Dr. Elissa Epel from the University of California, San Francisco says:

“It’s intuitive that taking a vacation reduces biological processes related to stress, but it was still impressive to see the large changes in gene expression from being away from the busy pace of life, in a relaxing environment, in such a short period of time. Our results point to both a significant ‘vacation effect’ that benefitted all groups, and a suppression of stress-related responses.”

Interestingly, half of the women also took part in meditation and yoga sessions on the retreat and showed even more positive effects, with less stress reported 10 months after the vacation.

Dr. Rudolph Tanzi, a professor of neurology at Harvard University said: “Based on our results, the benefit we experience from meditation isn’t strictly psychological; there is a clear and quantifiable change in how our bodies function.”

More research is needed into exactly why the effects of a vacation are so massive, but for the time being this serves as proof, if it was needed, that yes you do need that week away. Book it now.

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