Take a break: Vacations may be good for your health

Stress puts you at risk for heart disease and other illnesses. Chronic or prolonged stress also causes your body to work harder to correct DNA damage that could develop into cancer. The saving grace from these unwelcome health effects? Vacation.

One study found that people had fewer physical complaints and better mood and sleep quality three days after a vacation. While they don’t know exactly how vacations protect you, experts suspect their value lies in getting away from everyday stress.

Just a Few Days Can Make a Difference

Researchers define vacation as work-free periods lasting for days or weeks. The location doesn’t matter, either. The effect depends on the amount of recovery you experience during your time off. In one study, women who felt satisfied with their vacations had the most improved health results. It didn’t matter if they chose to rest at home, relax at a resort, or engage in projects around the house—as long as the women paid attention to their needs.

Reduce Stress by Listening to Music or Reading a Book

Whether you spend your next vacation at home or away, you might want to include some stress reducers for yourself. The following tips are proven relaxers in any location:

  • Attend a movie or art fair.

  • Sit in a room and listen to soft music.

  • Read a book.

  • Spend time near natural surroundings, such as a beach or forest.

  • Get physical exercise. Do something you enjoy, such as swimming, golfing, hiking or riding a bike. Check with your doctor to determine what activity level is right for you.

If you feel stressed but can’t get away for one long, extended break, consider taking a long weekend. Just try to fit some days off into your schedule. Studies show that a vacation’s refreshing effects fade quickly once you’re back on the job.

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