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Stress Relief

Your body is designed to unleash stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine when it senses danger. But the pressures of everyday life can set off the same reaction. Over time this can make you more likely to get depressed, gain weight, sleep poorly, and have other health problems. Getting away from time to time can give your body a chance to repair some of the damage.

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photo of mature woman gardening
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Feel Happier

Chances are that your mood will be better during vacation than in your day-to-day life. That feeling can last even in the several weeks of planning before you leave. But it's less clear if the post-trip buzz lasts as long. The key to happiness seems to depend on how often, not for how long, you get away.

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photo of cholesterol test
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Boost Your Heart

How's this for an invitation to chill out? Taking time off may cut your chances of dying from coronary heart disease. The evidence can show up in lab tests, from lowered blood sugar levels to more HDL "good" cholesterol. One study found that the benefits may kick in only if you "staycation" often at home, not if you have to get out of town.

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photo of man_in_hammock
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Better Sleep

The daily grind can zap your ZZZs. Overwork may soak up the hours you need to spend in bed. Or family commitments or stress may keep you from falling asleep or staying asleep. That can leave you tired, groggy, grumpy, and even sick. Getaways are great for naps and snoozes. And if you plan your trip in advance, you'll sleep better both before and after your vacation.    

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photo of woman working
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Sharper Focus

Endless work with too few breaks can fog your brain. You might find it hard to concentrate and to remember things. Time away can recharge you mentally and physically, so you return more focused and energized. The payoff? You may become more productive both on the job and at home. 

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photo of immune system
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Get Sick Less

Working too hard can send your adrenal system into overdrive. That releases hormones that may weaken your immunity. In turn, you may be more likely to get a cold or flu, and even more serious conditions like irritable bowel syndrome. Vacations let you take your foot off the gas pedal for a bit and allow your immune system to bounce back.

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photo of couples hands clasped
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More Sex

You might do it more often when you're on a holiday. More snuggle time with your partner probably helps. So might the drop in stress hormones like cortisol, which can dampen arousal and libido in both men and women.

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photo of mature couple camping
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Bolster Relationships

Couples who travel together say they're happier and more satisfied in their relationships than those who don't. These strong romantic and other social bonds can help to stay physically and mentally fit, especially as you get older.

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photo of mature man golfing
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Live Longer

It makes sense that taking a vacation eases stress, which in turn means less wear on your body, better health, and more years added to your life. Scientists can't explain exactly how that happens. Research continues.   

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photo of looking up flights
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The Good Getaway

Spending your holiday binge watching TV alone or hanging out with family members who stress you out won't leave you recharged. Take the time to carefully plan your trip and book your reservations ahead. Pick a destination where you'll feel safe and will have lots of time to hang out and connect with your loved ones.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 08/04/2019 Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian on August 04, 2019

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SOURCES:

Mayo Clinic: "Health Lifestyle Stress Management."

Allina Health: "Importance of taking vacation."

American Academy of Sleep Medicine: "Insomnia - Symptoms & Causes."

American Psychological Association: "Stress effects on the body."

Anxiety and Depression Association of America: "Anxiety, Stress, Depression and Sleep."

Applied Research in Quality of Life: "Vacationers Happier, but Most not Happier After a Holiday."

Harvard Business Review: "When a Vacation Reduces Stress — And When It Doesn't," "The Data-Driven Case for Vacation."

Harvard Health Publishing: "The health benefits of strong relationships."

Harvard Medical School Division of Sleep Medicine: "An Overview of Sleep Disorders."

Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Metabolic Syndrome."

Journal of Happiness Studies: "Vacation (after-) effects on employee health and well-being, and the role of vacation activities, experiences and sleep."

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: "Metabolic Syndrome."

Pflügers Archiv - European Journal of Physiology: "Sleep and immune function."

Psychology & Health: "How does a vacation from work affect employee health and well-being?" "Vacation frequency is associated with metabolic syndrome and symptoms."

Psychosomatic Medicine: "Are Vacations Good for Your Health? The 9-Year Mortality Experience After the Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial."

Victoria, Australia, Department of Health & Human Services: "Strong relationships, strong health."

The International Journal of Impotence Research: "The relationship of serum and salivary cortisol levels to male sexual dysfunction as measured by the International Index of Erectile Function."

The Journal of Sexual Medicine: "Chronic stress and sexual function in women."

Ustravel.org: "Travel Strengthens Relationships and Ignites Romance."

Brooks B. Gump, PhD, MPH, Falk Family Endowed Professor of Public Health, Syracuse University.

Psychology & Health: "Vacation frequency is associated with metabolic syndrome and symptoms."

American Psychosomatic Society: "Are vacations good for your health? The 9-year mortality experience after the multiple risk factor intervention trial."

Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian on August 04, 2019

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.