The Importance of Taking Vacations as a Caregiver

Did you know that at least 30% of Americans do not use all of their vacation days in a year? This leaves more than 488 million unused vacation days, even though there is evidence that taking regular vacations is associated with health benefits including a long, healthy life, and reducing the possibility of heart disease (source). For caregivers, who deal with higher levels of stress and a greater likelihood of illness, it is even more important to find the time to get away from day-to-day responsibilities. Still, many caregivers feel guilty about doing so, or lack the motivation to set up a vacation or trip because of perceived difficulty. Here are some great reminders of why taking a vacation is so very important for caregivers.

5 Reasons Caregivers Should Go on Vacations

  1. Reduce your stress: Taking the time to relax and unplug will immediately bring your stress levels down. Think about the last time you took a day or week for yourself (and/or family). Didn’t you feel better? Your stress and anxiety levels will go down and it will continue to last when you return. A recent study found that, “after taking time off from work, vacationers had fewer stress-related physical complaints such as headaches, backaches, and heart irregularities, and they still felt better five weeks later (source).”
  2. Keep your heart healthy: Those that vacations actually notice lower blood pressure and this is even more impactful for women who take vacations. According to a Framingham Heart Study, “In  a 20-year study, researchers found that women who took vacation once every six years or less were almost eight times more likely to develop coronary heart disease or have a heart attack than women who took at least two vacations per year.” People who vacation are also less likely to develop heart disease (source).
  3. Help you sleep better: Not sleeping well? Often it is a result of high stress and eating poorly. Taking time away will allow you to focus on yourself, take the stress away, eat better, and get some much-needed rest. This can help you reenergize.
  4. Improve your overall productivity at work, home, and as a caregiver: We often think that we can do it all, all the time, every day of the year. Well, with a break you may find that you return better, stronger, and increase your effectiveness as a caregiver. You will feel replenished and recharged to operate at 100% when you return.
  5. Not taking a vacation can have a negative impact: You can see and feel the benefits of taking a vacation and breaking away from your day-to-day routine. The opposite is true if you do not take time off and for yourself. Taking extended periods without a break can lead to high-stress, lack of productivity and creativity, and hurt your relationships.

It’s ultimately your decision, but taking short breaks, a day-off or a week away, can have extremely positive benefits. Mark your calendar, schedule the time, coordinate with your family and take a break. Do it today and you will feel better tomorrow!


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