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Take vacation days and detach

December 22, 2018

WESTPORT — The news doesn’t stop, but this week I am, and I think we’d all do well to take a break.

With my college years in the not so distant past, I have vivid memories of luxurious three week breaks and a part of me still believes that amount of time is needed to fully recover from the intensity of everyday life before diving back into the fray of it all.

However, while lamenting to a college friend recently about the relative brevity of my upcoming 10-day hiatus, she said not to fret and recalled a study that revealed even a four day break can decrease stress and improve well being.

The results of the study on a group of 40 German-speaking middle managers who were forced to take a four-night break showed that even seemingly “short” vacation had positive effects on the well-being, recovery, strain, and perceived stress of middle managers.

Benefits of a short break are measurable even 45 days after the end of the vacation, according to the study. What’s more, you don’t even have to leave your home to garner the positive effects a short vacation. The middle managers who spent their vacation at home and those who spent the break outside their usual environment both experienced large, positive, and immediate effects on stress overall happiness.

In this country, it’s a privilege to work at a company with paid vacation days, but if you’re one of the 52 percent of American employees who the U.S. Travel Association said left vacation time on the table in 2017, you should consider taking some of those days soon to reap rewards in the New Year, even if you can only take a four day break.

As a millennial and a journalist, I know how hard it is to unplug, but I suspect, and a study published in the journal Stress & Health confirms, that the degree of relaxation and health benefits one gains from a short trip depend on his or her level of detachment from work. Working during vacation actually negatively influences health and wellness after vacation, the Stress & Health study said.

I hope you all can take a vacation, however long, and suspend work for a few days to laugh with your family and friends and eat good food. I think our health and happiness may well depend on it.

svaughan@hearstmediact.com; 203-842-2638; @SophieCVaughan1

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