Monday, August 2, 2010

An Actual Study which Proves You Need Vacations

Two recent studies show there's good news and bad news about your coming vacation.

Bad news first: Your vacation will likely make you happier and probably even healthier, but those effects won't last long.

Now, the good: The benefits of your vacation kick in sooner than you'd think. In fact, if you have a trip planned, you're likely already happier than usual.

Despite vacations being a sizable contributor to the world economy—Americans alone will spend $76 billion on summer vacations this year, up $7 billion from last year, according to a survey by travel insurer Mondial Assistance USA—there's relatively little research available that measures vacation effects.

In a study published in the August issue of Work & Stress, an academic journal, authors surveyed 96 Dutch workers over a seven-week period beginning two weeks before their planned vacations. Workers were asked throughout the period about wellness factors, including their health status, mood, level of tension and energy and satisfaction. Participants reported improvements in each of these measures during their vacations, as expected. However, just one week after returning to work, their self-reported measures of wellness plummeted to pre-vacation levels.

That suggests the benefits of vacations are real but short-lived. What the study results don't show, and what the authors suggest future studies look at, is how changes in vacation time affect the duration of benefits upon return. For example, if a worker has 10 vacation days to use during summer, does he capture greater total happiness by using them all at once on an extended getaway, or by taking Fridays off all summer long?

Another study, published in the March issue of Applied Research in Quality of Life, looked at survey results from more than 1,500 Netherlanders, almost 1,000 of whom had gone on vacations. Time off refreshed workers, but the effects were far from lasting. The study also showed a marked increase in the self-reported happiness of vacationers in the weeks leading up to their trips.

The implications for workers are clear. Plan vacations well in advance. Doing so can save money, but more important, it prolongs the anticipatory phase and increases total happiness. How best to handle the dip in happiness upon returning to work? Simple: Start planning your next vacation right away.

Above article was found at by Conor Dougherty. Greg Guiteras of added a link to it's content.

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