Imagine Health

Summer Sunshine

With the summer season finally here, you have good reason to be optimistic about the coming months. With summer, comes improved mood, the hottest and longest days of the year, and more opportunities to enjoy the beauty of nature and pursue outdoor activities. In addition, summer is the time where most of us think about and plan our holidays.

The importance of taking regular breaks and trips away is often overlooked. Working long hours in stressful environments will eventually take its toll and it will prove harmful to your long term physical and emotional well-being. Work stress makes us more susceptible to illness and burnout, while we may become less efficient and productive in our work. Whether you decide to take a long summer holiday in the sun, or take short and frequent trips away, the batteries will be recharged and you will come back a happier and healthier you.

Let’s explore some of the reasons why taking holidays are so important for our emotional and physical well-being:

  • Improve Mental Health – Sometimes, without conscious awareness, holidays greatly improve our overall mood and physical wellbeing. A study conducted by Nuffield Health in 2013 found that on returning from holidays, people experience improved mood and energy levels, improved ability to recover from stress and significant improvements in quality of sleep. In addition, Joudrey and Wallace (2009) reported that taking holidays resulted in reduced levels of depression for a large sample who worked in high pressured jobs with long working hours.
  • Reconnect with loved ones – There is no doubt that a stressful working life can impact our relationships. Getting away from the office, the never-ending emails and phone calls, provides us with a perfect opportunity to reconnect and revitalise our relationships that we hold so dear. Furthermore, if you feel your social life is taking a hit, summer is the ideal time to organise a holiday for you and a group of friends.

    The benefits of holidays also extend to the family relationships. Research by Lehto and colleagues in 2009 found that family holidays positively contribute towards family bonding, cohesiveness and solidarity. The laughter and memories created will last a life time and can only evoke happy and positive thoughts, which can be called upon at times of stress. While family holidays can be associated with stress, the benefits undoubtedly outweigh the drawbacks.

  • New Experiences – Breaking the daily routine provides us with the opportunity to experience new surroundings, meet new people, partake in new activities, learn about different cultures and try new foods. Broadening our horizons enables us to think in different and more creative ways.
  • Improve Work Productivity – You might ask how taking time of the job can improve work productivity. In fact, there is research to suggest that a positive relationship exists between taking holidays and cognitive function. After a relaxing break in the sunshine, you mind should be free of worry and distraction, allowing you to focus on the job and work more effectively and efficiently.

In conclusion, these are just some of the reasons why everyone should plan and take holidays this summer. Take the time to appreciate everything in your life, and don’t be afraid to have an adventure or try new things. Do it for yourself, your partner, your family, and most importantly, HAVE FUN.

Seamus O’Donnell
Assistant Psychologist, BA, MS