The next two weeks, I’ll be on vacation. Most of us, look forward to vacations. I sure do. This vacation is extra special in that it’s the third one of our “7 Year-Old Grandchild Trips.” This time, with our grandtwins, Noah and Haley.
We started the tradition with our oldest granddaughter when she turned 7. Now, she is nearly 16. A trip to Oregon, alone with Grandpa and Grandma. Given that all five of our grandkids live in Florida, even the seven-hours of flying diagonally from corner to corner of our country is special and unique. And, it is one entire week when it is all about them. Listening to the pounding surf of the majestic Pacific Ocean. Riding a hot-rod open sand rail on the steep dunes of the Oregon Coast. Playing in the snow of the Cascade mountains. Seeing the taller than tall fir trees of the Northwest. Hiking in the woods to a hundred foot plus tall series of waterfalls. It’s magical. At then at the end, the “grandpaparazzi” photographer and his assistant (my wife), create a custom-made photo book for each grandchild with the photo highlights of their week full of special memories with their grandparents.
And for a bit of background. Why Oregon? I grew up in Oregon. All my family still live on the West Coast. So, my grandkids who have grown up in Florida, get to spend precious time with my mom (their great grandmother), my siblings (their great uncles and aunts), and a myriad of cousins they haven’t met before. And, it’s all in a totally different climate and environment that is very dissimilar to southwest Florida. Mountains instead of flat land. Thunderous towering ocean waves instead of a lake-like Gulf of Mexico. Cool nights and warm summer days that remind them of a Florida winter. Tall evergreen trees instead of tropical palms. And more.
This is one of our family traditions for making memories. What are yours? I hope you will get some time this summer to make some memories of your own. Do you go to a cabin in the mountains? Do you go camping? Fishing? Boating? Beach? Theme park? A road trip? Do you go visit relatives in another state? Do you travel to a new country or a new part of our country? It is very important to take breaks. Get away from work and the daily routines of life. Will you be taking a vacation this summer?
People in the U.S. are working more hours and taking less time off, bringing on various mental and physical health challenges. I recently read that 212 million vacation days get forfeited annually. There are incredible benefits from taking vacation time. Especially during the past year of stress-filled pandemic uncertainties, a vacation may just be exactly what you need this summer.
Here’s why according to Dr. Kathryn Isham:
1. Improved Physical Health – Stress can contribute to heart disease and high blood pressure. Studies show that taking a vacation at least every two years compared to every six will lessen the risk of heart attacks. If that is true, why not take one or two vacations every year?
2. Improved Mental Health – Neuroscientists have found that chronic stress can alter your brain structure and bring on anxiety and depress. Vacations relieve stress and allow your body and mind to heal in ways it can’t while your are under pressure.
3. Greater Well-Being – According to a Gallup study, just three days after a vacation starts, physical complaints, quality of sleep and moved improved compared to before vacation. These gains were still present five weeks later.
4. Increased Mental Motivation – Many who return from vacation are more focused and productive. Taking time off is like getting a brain tune-up.
5. Improved Family Relationships – Spending time enjoying life with loved ones can strengthen your relationships. A study in Arizona discovered that women who took vacations were more satisfied with their marriages.
6. Decreased Burnout – Employees who take regular vacations are less likely to experience burnout, making them more creative and productive than their overworked, under-rested counterparts.
7. Boosted Happiness – Research shows that even planning a vacation can boost your happiness. Some people experience an elevated mood up to eight weeks before their time away.
The bottom line is, take a vacation this Summer or Fall if you possibly can. When you take time away, you will most likely improve your physical, mental and relational health. On top of it, your job performance and perspective toward work has a good chance of benefitting too because you have been recharged and refreshed. If you haven’t scheduled a time away, start planning now because, even that, will get you started toward more overall satisfaction and all-around good health.
QUESTION: What are your vacation plans this summer/fall? I shared some of mine and I’d love to hear yours in the comment section below.