A trip away would be about as heavenly as winning the lottery, but who has the time, right? Well it looks like you better clear some space because experts are now saying that regular holidays are a vital necessity, not a luxury.
"Our bodies need a break from the stresses of work," says Andrew McCombe, author of Activate Your Life. "We often overlook the importance of proper rest and relaxation, but without it our bodies don't have time to repair, recuperate and grow."
The unfortunate thing is that today's workaholic climate makes many of us feel guilty, weak or bad for taking the downtime that's owed to us. "Australians have a staggering 70 million annual leave days stockpiled," says Geoff Buckley, Acting Managing Director, Tourism Australia. "That means tens of thousands of Australian employees are in need of a holiday."
So are you one of those people who are chained to their desk 24/7? Need a little encouragement to schedule in some R&R? Well, here are 10 super reasons why you should dig out and dust off that old suitcase pronto.
1. Regain your fitness
Experts believe that we can reclaim up to 30 percent of our fitness just by going on holidays. Vacations force us to exercise because we walk greater distances, swim, chase the kids around and play sports. Just standing upright instead of sitting down at a desk all day help you look and feel fitter. Regular movement during the day also boosts your circulation and gets your blood pumping which ups your heart rate and immune system.
2. Rebuild your body
Without the stress of the nine to five grind our bodies have enough time and freedom to repair themselves. It's easier for our system to fight sickness when we're on holidays because it's not working so hard trying to fend off all the other environmental baddies. It's a widely accepted truth that chronic disorders, such as back pain, migraines and sore throats, also disappear when we're on a break. "I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome and when I'm at work I suffer from the worst cramps," says Emily, 29. "But last year I took myself off to the Whitsundays for three weeks and it miraculously vanished. I could eat whatever I wanted to and the pain was gone!"
3. Breathe easier
Ever camped in the mountains and thought, "Gee, the air feels clean here?" Well, you're right. City pollution means the air in urban areas is more congested and dirty. To give your lungs and bloodstream a chance to clear you need around 72 hours in pure, fresh air every few months. And where will you find this? In holiday spots that are less populated, towns that are high above sea level, the snow fields, and places that are near rainforests. Your lungs are built to repair themselves so as long as you give them time to dispel any unwanted carbon monoxide you should be breathing better in no time.
4. Feel inspired
If you've lost your gusto for work then it's time for an inspiration top up. Visiting places that move you and doing things that you're passionate about are an instant fast-track to idea heaven. Stagnant surroundings make for a bored and dull you, so get your juices flowing by pumping some good endorphins into your body. And how do you do that? Sunlight, laughter, healthy food, exercise, sex and fresh air are all guaranteed to have you bouncing off the walls with enthusiasm.
5. Reconnect with your partner
Tiredness and stress are instant sexual zappers. Holiday sex on the other hand, is always hot. So the best way to reclaim that intimacy and passion is to move out of your boring, old bedroom and get it on somewhere foreign and fabulous like a secluded mountain cabin or a seaside bed and breakfast. Studies have also shown that female and male fertility rates are higher outside of polluted and congested cities. Bonus!
6. Heighten your senses
Takeaway food, cigarette smoke, pollution and sickness all affect our sense of taste and smell. "I love nothing more than tucking into a beautiful steak over a nice glass of red wine, followed by a rich chocolate pudding," says Belinda, 28. "But I've found that lately I'm just not enjoying my food as much as I used to. I'm either too busy worrying about my never ending to-do list, or I'm fighting off a cold so I can't taste anything anyway." So if you truly want to enjoy a nice, wholesome meal you need to do it on holidays.
7. Sleep better
Lower stress levels and the relative peace and quiet that comes with any good holiday are key in helping you catch up on lost sleep. There is a reason why traffic controllers are required to take break every 15 minutes, you know! Cities are noisy and traffic, boisterous colleagues, nasty neighbours and exuberant air-conditioning can all raise your cholesterol, blood pressure and the likelihood of headaches. So find somewhere peaceful to chill out and turn the volume down in your head.
8. Do your kids a favour
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics an increasing number of children are growing up in a family where both parents work full time with more than a quarter of Australians working more than 49 hours a week. Not only does this means that parents are missing out on quality time with their family, but children are being forced to hang out with their mum and dad when they're stressed, tired, moody and touchy. So why not do everyone a favour and take some time off together?
9. Be more productive
Ever ventured into the countryside and thought, "Wow the hills are so green and the sky is so blue?" There's a good reason for that you know. We're so used to the drab greys and blacks of the city that our eyes forget how much we love colour. The same goes for our brain cells too. Seeing and doing the same thing every day reduces our mind's efficiency so we need new stimulants to ensure we're operating at our peak. This means taking a holiday will help you perform better at work when you get back. Is there a better excuse than that?
10. Become a nicer person
Naomi, 32, is the manager of her own fashion company and says that when she comes back from holidays her staff always comment on how much nicer she is. "It's a confidence boost for me because it reminds me that I can be a pretty cool person when I want to be," she admits. "Seeing how people respond to me when I'm calmer and more relaxed is an incentive to try and act like that all the time. When you strip away the hustle and bustle of the working week, you get to the core of who you really are. So I have vowed to take more leave in the hope that my "nice" months start to outnumber my bad ones."