Everyone loves a good vacation, right?
A chance to vacate normal routines, time out to read, perhaps a stroll along a beach, a walk in the bush, lunch with friends, time to do whatever, whenever!
There are good reasons as to why we all need a vacation – our health and wellbeing actually improves when we take a break.
It makes sense doesn’t it?
No deadlines, no emails, no office politics, no transport issues, only our own agenda for the day.
In my private life as well as with clients, I often hear people say, “I’m just hanging out until the holidays” or “I can’t wait to go on holiday and have a break”.
But what usually happens when we go on holidays? Often when people hang out for their annual leave, they spend the first couple of days of their holidays “catching up on sleep” – or they get sick!
Then they finally find a couple of days to relax, and before you know it they are thinking about how they have to return to work soon; what their inbox will be like, the ‘to do’ list waiting for their return, and without realising it, they shift back into ‘doing’ mode.
When they do return to work they feel like they have never been away! – Sound familiar?
So what does the science say about vacations?
Yes holidays/vacations are good for our mental health and wellbeing, with scientific studies showing improved scores in levels of stress, depression and anxiety. Good news!!
However recent research from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California compared three groups. One group of healthy non-meditating women going on a six-day retreat vacation was assigned to relaxing on-site and another was assigned meditation at the retreat. Both groups were compared to a group of ‘regular meditators’ already enrolled at the retreat.
Blood tests indicated all groups showed changes in gene expression post-intervention – so, going on vacation IS good for us!
Even better news was that the group who learnt to meditate on the retreat showed lower distress over time compared to the ‘relaxation retreat’ vacationers. However those who already had an existing meditation practice showed even greater cellular health benefits beyond the vacation effect.
So if you are hanging out for your vacation but you would like the vacation effect now, then there is no time like the present to start your meditation practice! Each Monday night at 7pm you can join us for Monday Meditations; or join our next 6 Week Beginner’s Program.
Here is a simple 3 Minute Awareness Meditation to get you started.