COVID-19 turned the world upside down. People started working from home, events were postponed until further notice, and vacations were canceled. Now that the vaccines are being administered, restrictions are started to loosen, and summer is fast approaching, it may be time to start planning a getaway.
The Importance of Vacations for Mental Health
If you’re eager for a vacation, you’re not alone. After being mostly confined to our homes, many people have cabin fever, and after over a year of overwhelming pandemic-related stress, anxiety, and loss, we could all use a break. Not only is a trip nice for getting away, but also there may be several mental health benefits of vacations.
1. Decrease Depression
Another one of the mental health benefits of taking a vacation may be that travel helps depression. In 2019, 6.5% of American adults reported symptoms of depression, but by the end of 2020, that number jumped closer to 30%.2 Now more than ever people need help for depression, and research suggests that vacations may reduce depressive symptoms. One study on lawyers specifically found that vacations can significantly decrease depression and are more effective in reducing symptoms than passive leisure activities.3
In addition to the immediate danger of COVID, many people were stretched thin trying to balance childcare, school, work, relationships, finances, and self-care. When you’re in a “go, go, go” state for a prolonged period of time, your body and mind don’t have time for recovery. Taking a vacation can reduce stress by removing people from stressful environments. Even a quick getaway can decrease perceived stress and strain for up to 45 days after the trip is over.1
3. Reduce Anxiety
A survey from the end of December 2020 found that around 37% of American adults were experiencing symptoms of anxiety. This level is much higher than the 8.1% in 2019.2 Anxiety can be exacerbated by stress and a person’s everyday responsibilities, so getting away and going on vacation may help reduce a person’s anxiety levels.
4. Reconnect with Loved Ones
Especially if you are trying to cope with anxiety or depression, you may be snapping at your loved ones or distancing yourself from them, but your relationships with others can have a big impact on your own mental health. Along with the direct mental health benefits of vacation time, taking a trip with your family or significant other may also help strengthen your relationships. Whether you take a solo trip to recharge or go on a family vacation to reconnect, both types of vacation may help your relationships and consequently your mental health.
5. Improve Overall Well-Being
Along with decreasing specific symptoms of mental health conditions, one of the biggest mental health benefits of taking a vacation is its impact on a person’s overall well-being. Several studies show that taking a vacation can improve a person’s well-being and perceived quality of life, but unfortunately, these improvements may not last long after returning back to their regular routine.4
Now more than ever people need to focus on their mental health. While there may be some temporary benefits of vacations for mental health, one trip may not be enough. If you are struggling, you may need other help. At Vertava Health, our behavioral health treatment centers are here for you. We offer several different types of programs to help you feel happier once more.