Scientific studies conclude that there is such a thing as a “too-long holiday”.
We all appreciate a good break from work every now and then. A long weekend getaway from all the craziness that chases you from 9-5 every day of the week. A holiday spent sipping cocktails, sunbathing, sightseeing, skiing and self-indulging. A few days or weeks off from any stiff emails, nagging clients or managers attacking you at your office cubicle. It can be time spent with family, friends, to catch up on some self-love or for moving on. But when do the relaxation and remoteness wear off? How long a period would make for a good holiday? What is the ideal vacation length?
Scientifically-speaking, too much time off can be harmful on your routine and ability to resettle into your working environment. A study from The University of Tamper, in Finland, states that “most vacations seem to have a strong, but rather short-lived effect on health and well-being. Day 8 appears to be the sweet spot where you feel most relaxed. It is where your body adapts to the change of pace and structure. However, the study further adds that “vacations exceeding day 8 showed no differences in levels of health and wellness from before or after the break.” We usually fit vacations into the free time we can spare: weekends, school holidays, full months abroad (when we’re lucky, or in between jobs). Easter and Christmas are popular times to go away with family.
This study observed 54 holidaymakers and how their health and well-being changed according to the length of vacation. It noted that all benefits were short-lived after resuming work when the time off exceeded 8 days. Consequently, taking a holiday for more than eight days won’t significantly make you feel more restored. But, having said that, it is all together rushed or expensive to fly off to a destination for just one week.
A lot of factors will play a role in the benefits associated with health and wellness. Travelling can be exhausting, especially when it involves a high-impact itinerary, like backpacking. And most times after returning from a holiday skiing in the Swiss Alps or river rafting in the Rockies, you’ll need an actual holiday to recover.
Finally, the relevancy of this study can vary depending on your holiday type, career, life goals, personality type and destination. It is very important to take regular breaks from work for health and wellness reasons, even if they are just short weekend getaways. Below is a useful infographic to encourage you to use paid leave days and go travelling.