Over the last five years of being a holiday manager, I have watched as peoples holidays got shorter and shorter. Until bizarrely I now get emails from Airbnb advising me that “28% of people looking in my region are booking holidays of 1 night or shorter” I haven’t figured out how that is possible unless it’s that ‘other’ kind of room rental!
Ironically though the benefits of a holiday are largely realised after a week – the sweet spot for relaxation is actually seven nights and eight days. The theory goes that the first day is usually taken up with travelling, locating and settling into your new accommodation. Then day two and three are spent slowly unwinding from work, by day four you are relaxed and in the swing of things which peaks at about day seven. Day eight is spent getting home, unpacking, washing and lamenting over leaving your phone charger behind.
Although the lure of a holiday is in the sensory experience of it now – (cool aqua water and ocean breezes through your hair). Holidays actually have a cumulative long term effect. A nine-year study at the State University of New York at Oswego found that taking a week-long holiday every year reduced your overall risk of death by about 20%. Go on holidays and live longer – sounds like a win/win. On the flip side, the famous Framingham Heart Study showed that women who took the least holidays were 8 times more likely to have a heart attack. For context, they only took a holiday every 6 years on average – so no real surprise there.
But how often you take holidays also has an impact. The overall happiness level you feel on your holidays has generally faded before your tan. Two to four weeks after your holiday, expect to feel back to your old cranky self. However, my brother in law of all people has a great theory on this. It’s simple.
Take a one week holiday every three months. The theory goes you have a week’s worth of holiday bliss, you return and spend two and four weeks back at work but enjoying that holiday afterglow. Buckle down for the next four weeks planning your holiday and sorting out all the delicious details – a great stress reliever. Then the last three weeks counting down that days and getting very excited about your holidays.
The moral of the story is take holidays, at least four a year for a week – to avoid early death and heart attack risk. Or just to have a great time, reconnect with your family and get off the hamster wheel for a bit.