This is a guest post by the ultra talented Diane Pearce, a successful entrepreneur who has been buying and letting holiday cottages for over 15 years. She is passionate about providing last-minute getaways to those seeking a real retreat. She now owns BimbleBox, a popular holiday cottage rental website that provides beautiful and affordable escapes to remember. Here she explains why a little cottage holiday can make you feel better in more than one way…
Modern day life is so fast-paced that we rarely get a moment to stop and reflect on the things that are important to us. We’re working harder, we’re playing harder, and patience is something we just don’t have time for. Regardless whether it is a hectic home life or a frantic work life, we deal with constant stress.
Human beings are creatures of routine, and though routines may provide a sense of comfort for the majority of the time, occasionally breaking from it is crucial to our overall health and wellbeing. Holiday escapes can benefit us in a million little ways, but the following are arguably the most important.
You’ll get a mental break
In Britain, we’re working harder than ever before. We are working more hours than the rest of Europe, but despite our efforts the average British employee only uses three-quarters of their annual leave. In fact, only 12% of the workforce make use of the full allowance. We might regard this as dedication and perseverance, but such efforts may actually have negative consequences. One source claims that due to long hours and heavy workloads, the average worker feels that they require six short holidays a year to stay focused and that those who don’t become aggressive, anxious and ill, leading to an increase in sick days.
A quarter of workers feel desperate to get away from work every few weeks, but don’t take long to de-stress. In fact, most feel rejuvenated after just one or two days away. Taking a mental break can actually benefit your overall job performance. Penny de Valk, managing director of talent management at Penna, states that “Evidence shows you become less productive without proper breaks. Even if people work longer hours, they are not as creative and can’t maintain the same intensity level.”
A holiday can reduce blood pressure, stress and glucose levels
It is no surprise that a holiday can soothe and relax, but a holiday can also have a physical impact. One study claims that vacations can rejuvenate by lowering stress levels and cutting blood pressure. Such positive changes can last for months. A study carried out by Nuffield Health shows that the average blood pressure of holiday makers drops by 6%, and those who abstain from holidays see an increase in blood pressure over the same period. On top of this, research suggests that people on holiday see a decrease in glucose levels, which lessens the risk of diabetes and obesity while boosting mood and energy.
Holidays can rebuild family ties
Family holidays comprise our happiest memories. Researchers at Purdue University have shown that family holidays can create what is known as ‘crescive bonds’, which positively contributes to family communication, bonding and solidarity. This is brought about by shared experiences, connections and memories. Though family holidays might see their share of stress and frustration, quality family time is a benefit that far outweighs any negatives.
Holidays provide lifetime memories
Memories are powerful things, and evoking certain memories can have untold benefits on relation and brain patterns in a way very similar to meditation. Fond memories can move the brain into alpha waves, the stage brought about just before sleep when we are calm and relaxed. According to clinical psychologist Ron Bracey, reflecting on holiday memories can be utilised as a ‘rescue remedy’, as the brain actually releases feel-good hormones in response.
Holidays give you a chance to laugh
When on holiday, you can truly relax, unwind and open yourself up to fun and laughter. You might have heard that laughter is the best medicine – well, this just happens to be true. Laughter has similar advantages to that of a workout. It can boost your heart rate and actually burn calories. Maciej Buchowski, a Vanderbilt University researcher, showed that ten to fifteen minutes of laughter burns as many as fifty calories. Laughing also has the added benefit of strengthening your immune system by releasing endorphins.
You’ll catch up on your sleep
A holiday is the perfect time to catch up on your sleep, the benefits of which are constantly underappreciated. In our hectic everyday lives, we may not find the time to get the eight to ten hours that most human beings require to function optimally. Regardless of the many stories we might hear about the famous and successful people who survived on four hours sleep a night, sleep deprivation can seriously impair mental performance, weaken our immune systems, and prompt premature aging. Without the stresses and strains of work and the strict schedules modern workers must adhere to, our bodies can fall back into their natural rhythms.
Put simply, sleep is imperative, and we need it to repair and renew. During sleep, we release higher levels of cortisol (the hormone that protects our immune systems) than we do during the day.
You’ll get time outdoors
Ideas of nature, the countryside and sprawling green fields are inextricably linked to the concept of a cottage holiday. We’re still animals, and proximity to nature can provide some huge health benefits. We’re more likely to venture outdoors on holiday than we are during the average work week, meaning that we are re-oxygenating our blood and getting exposure to sunlight, which will boost our vitamin D levels.