Taking time off from work or your daily grind not helps us to de-stress and feel happier, but it also helps with productivity and mood. For the past year, my hunny (the man of my life, Dwayne) and I hadn’t been traveling often like we used to. We would travel at least 4 times a year. But recently, we became so overwhelmingly consumed with balancing work, school, family matters and my brand. It has gotten so bad to the point I woke up early Sunday morning, got dressed and left from our apartment (while he was snoring away) to write this blog at one of my favorite parks in NYC. For me, this was a great mini getaway of a few hours to somewhere I truly enjoy being present and in tune with nature. 

Unfortunately for the past few months, I was stressed and burned out from life. I was more snappy at work, towards my family and friends. I found myself having constant body aches after leaving working and completing a podcast. I exercise regularly, but my energy during my workouts was down. The joys of life were being sucked right out of me. It wasn’t until I saw pictures of my friends vacationing on a Caribbean island on social media that I woke up and realized that I hadn’t taken a vacation in a long time. Did I mention that I even declined on going to some of those vacations with my friends because I had to much work to do and stressed about finances? Not good. One day, one of my friends sent me an email requesting that Dwayne and I celebrate her birthday in Mexico for Memorial Day Weekend. I didn’t respond initially, but I kept reading that email repeatedly for the next 4 days. I spoke with Dwayne about it and he said “Babe we need a vacation. We are tired and burned out. A mental break is due." She needed me to RSVP the following week. It was at that very moment a sleeping giant awoken inside my mind, soul, and body. Next thing I know, I clicked RSVP! I texted her the next day informing her that Dwayne and I will be there with her to celebrate her life. We purchased our tickets and hotel room the following day. And we left to Mexico for a four-day weekend. 

The mini trip to Mexico was glorious, relaxing and therapeutic. My soul, mind, and body experienced a different level of euphoria. I had finally escaped from the madness of everyday life in NYC. I don’t regret it because I deserve some rest and relaxation. According to a recent article on www.time.com, "many Americans don’t even take their allotted vacation time. Fewer Americans are going on vacation now than in the past…even when people are on vacation, more than 60% say they keeping working remotely.” My fellow Americans, this is terrible and alarming. I too fell into that mode about a year ago until I did something about it. I reminded myself that I only have one life to live and I better live it. The benefits of a vacation are clear; both physically and psychologically. For one, taking a break is extremely recommended for one’s mental health. But you got to know how to vacation. Poor planning can lead to more stress. 

You know what’s concerning about our country in comparison to other countries in Europe? According to a 2013 report by the Center for Economic and Policy research, “the U.S. is the only developed country that does not legally require a single paid vacation day…statistically speaking the average American left a billion vacation days unused last year.” In Europe, 20 paid vacation days minimum are required! France required 30 while Denmark, Austria and Belgium actually pay employees more when on vacation to offset the costs of travel! Maybe I should consider moving myself and family to Europe? Hmmmm…just a thought. In America, we earn 10 days of vacation a year or 2 work weeks. This means we as workers we have the lowest vacation days in the Western World. Yet many of still don’t take even half of their vacation time! In South America, Brazilians are granted 30 vacation days a year. Meanwhile down under, Australians receive 20 days a year. 

What are the health benefits of taking a vacation? 

  • Vacation reduces stress and anxiety. Don’t you feel happier while on vacation? Take notice of your mood.

  • Decreases depression

  • Improve productivity. People who take time off are more productive overall than those who spent time working. 

  • Helps your heart to stay healthy. According to a recent article published in the American Journal of American Medical Association titled “Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial: Risk Factor Changes and Mortality Results” found that men who take vacations annually and frequently were approximately 32 percent less likely to die from heart disease in comparison those who don’t take vacations annually and/or do staycations.  Another study from Framingham Heart Study found that women took less vacations are more likely to develop coronary heart disease or possible a heart attack than women who took at least two vacations per year.

  • Vacations boosts mental health! People are less tense, possess higher energy levels, more satisfied with life and are much healthier while on vacation. 

  • If you are in a healthy relationship, a vacation can improve your relationship with your loved one. I can attest to that because Dwayne and I were at odds with each other due to the amount of stress we acquired plus not having to take a vacation in a long time. Upon returning from our vacation, we are feeling more connected, happier and refreshed.

So again ladies and gentlemen, there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking some time off for a mental break. GO AWAY! LEAVE! Come back as a different person. You deserve happiness in your life. You are not a machine! Save your money and plan your trip in advance. As mentioned earlier, taking time off from work or your daily grind not helps us to de-stress and feel happier, but it also helps with productivity, keeps your mind and heart healthy, and elevates your mood. I know it certainly did for me!