These days more people are not taking a regular holiday from work. Health experts say not taking a holiday can lead to health problems, family strain and burnout. Those who take regular holidays enjoy better physical and psychological health, and are also more productive than those who don’t.
A survey conducted by Expedia found 11% of Australian workers did not take any annual leave last year. Some workers have not had a holiday for several years.
Among those who do take holidays, an increasing number of workers are checking work emails regularly or popping into the office while 'on holiday'. Some workers use their leave entitlement to take care of family emergencies or for medical appointments and procedures. In a survey conducted by Princes Cruises eight out of ten Australian workers said they felt guilty when relaxing. One third of those surveyed said the thought of relaxing actually made them feel stressed. These things stop a worker from getting maximum benefit from their time off.
Research has found those who take 'proper' holidays tend to have lower stress levels, healthier blood pressure and are at less risk of having a stroke or heart attack. One study found the blood pressure of people on holiday dropped by an average of 6%.
A person's mental health is boosted by taking regular holidays. Research has shown people who don't take holidays experience more work related stress.
The Australian Council of Trades Union (ACTU) says it is important for employees to to take holidays for better occupational health and safety as well as rest and recreation. People who relax and recharge their batteries by taking a holiday are generally more motivated and positive.
Beach on Kangaroo Island Image:Marie Vonow
It is not only employees who need a regular holiday. Those in management positions, people who are self employed, caregivers (both male and female) and carers need regular holidays too.
A holiday may involve time away from home or it could be a period of time where a person is staying at home but having a break from his/her usual routine and responsibilities. A carer may be able to book the person they care for into a care facility and spend time sleeping in, catching up with friends and doing hobbies. Parents may be able to arrange for their children to stay with grandparents for the weekend or a few days while they go on day trips and explore the local area if they can't afford a holiday away.
There are many health benefits to be gained from spending some time away from home in a different environment. These may include
A new perspective on problems. This may lead to finding solutions.
Time to enjoy Nature and its health benefits.
More exercise (walking, swimming, playing tennis etc)
Improved sleep, especially if one is holidaying at the beach, camping or getting more exercise.
Swimming pool at Gracelands Hotel in Phuket. Swimming helps one sleep better. Image:Marie Vonow
Strengthening family relationships.
Making new friends.
Time for hobbies such as photography.
Trying new activities and having fresh experiences.
Camel riding in Broome was a new experience. Image:Marie Vonow
To get the maximum benefit from a holiday:
Do not feel guilt. Remind yourself it is good for your health.
Remember you will be more productive when you return to work.
Do not check work emails. If it is a requirement of the job which can't be avoided, limit the amount of time spent doing so. Allocate a time you take care of emails each day and forget work the rest of the day.
Make a point of doing new activities and breaking your routine.
The benefits of a proper holiday continue after one returns to every day life. The memories can continue to boost one's enthusiasm for life and provide something interesting to share with others.