As it turns out, a long weekend vacation is not nearly enough to get you a sufficient dose of rest and rejuvenation. Sure, you might be thinking that a long weekend vacation is better than no vacation. And yes, if you can nip in a hump day or two for a spa treat, there’s really no harm in it. But if you can swing it, science says you should try for a full 8-day vacation.
A research published in the Journal of Happiness Studies, suggests that feelings of happiness and personal well-being rapidly increase as soon as you take that break from work. There are obviously no surprises there, but the 2012 research that looked at 58 people learned that a vacationer’s well-being only peaked on the eighth day of vacation.
“How is that possible?!” You ask.
Well, take a minute and really think about that long weekend break you just took. To begin with, there was probably half a day’s worth of travel time getting to your destination. Then you took some time to settle into your accommodation and figure out a routine like sleeping and eating and regular relaxation stuff. By the time you’ve settled into a comfortable care-free routine, it’s… time to pack up and leave; with another half day’s worth of travel ahead of you.
Clearly, on-cue relaxation isn’t a thing. The same research concludes that it takes time to wind down and acclimatise to a vacation. Which makes sense if you consider the nights in which you just can’t get some shut-eye after a stressful day at work, even after the glass of wine and an oh-so-relaxing bubble bath.
That said, you don’t need to plan a month-long getaway to maximise the benefits of a vacation. As a matter of fact, the research shows that although pure bliss may be achieved on day eight, the positive feelings start decreasing and fall rapidly after day 11. So try for vacations somewhere in that range.
The sad news though, is the fact that your vacation doesn’t actually do anything for your mood the moment you get back to work. So why take one in the first place? Well, the study notes the risk of premature death and illness goes up without annual vacations. The study also found that short breaks like the weekend aren’t long enough for people to reap the benefits of having time off.
The conclusion? It’s time to take longer vacations. So as the year-end approaches and our leave days reset, make sure you don’t squander away all your vacation time on one day breaks or extra long long weekends.