Do you know the difference between hard work and overwork? For most professionals, the answer is likely ‘no’. While this New York Times article helps explain the difference, even those who know they are overworking may not know a way out of the trap our professions can put us in.
Pressure put on us because of financial and professional expectations can be overwhelming, and the consequences of this work-related stress can have irreparable health effects. So, if you have vacation days, take them. They serve as the best way to improve your health by escaping the negative effects of overwork, even if it is only temporary.
Work and Health: An Often Negative Relationship
We would all love to have a career that truly mirrors our passions. For most, this is not possible. Even if we are doing what we are good at, or something we truly love, finding the perfect job can be near-impossible. For this reason, most of us face stress related to work that can seem an unshakeable burden.
The Huffington Post explains how the nature of many jobs – even ones not considered to be overly stressful – can have serious health consequences. Sitting, a seemingly unavoidable part of most white collar jobs, puts serious strain on our cardiovascular health. The Mayo Clinic adds how work-related stress can diminish our mental and physical well-being. Those who work jobs that are computer-dependent develop computer vision syndrome (CVS), at a clip of 64% to 90%, according to U.S. National Institute of Health.
All of this is to say, wasting your vacation days means further endangering your health. We arguably take years off of our life just from working, and turning down our vacation days adds to these already unavoidable work-related problems.
The Flipside: How Travel Benefits Your Mental and Physical Health
Travel days aren’t just must-takes because work is boring. Travel can actually provide health benefits that begin to take effect before you even step aboard a plane. That’s right, the anticipation of a trip alone can provide an elevated mood and decreased stress.
Express Travel Clinic breaks down the health benefits of travel into four fairly basic categories:
1) improved happiness
2) reduced anxiety, stress, and depression
3) improved physical health
4) an overall healthier mind
Regardless of your current physical and mental fitness, it is difficult to argue that we could not all use more of these travel-related boosts in our lives. This is especially true for those who are in recovery from addiction. Vacation can provide an opportunity for new perspective on life, self-reflection and healing, and the chance to experience activities that could fill the void formerly occupied by your addiction.
Anybody who travels should consider whether or not they want to bring their pet – typically dogs – and this is true of those in recovery, too. The companionship can help provide a sense of responsibility and stave off the urge to return to former habits; they’re a wonderfully rewarding.
Traveling is good for us, there are no two ways about it. Mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, you name it. The stress we feel from work – especially overwork – can cause irreparable health consequences, both physically and mentally. So, if you have travel days, take advantage of them. And if you don’t, you should at least consider a job that has a more reasonable approach toward your well-being.
Henry Moore is the co-creator of FitWellTraveler. The site blends two of his favorite subjects (travel and health) to provide readers with information about how to get the most out of both.