Tuesday, October 4, 2011

3 Ways a Holiday Is Good for Your Health

Humans need balance. There’s something intrinsic in our makeup that drives us to seek out light and shade, calm and excitement, work and play. If we tip the scales too heavily to one side or another, things start going awry. For this reason, holidays are not only a lot of fun and great experiences, they’re also good for our health. The benefits of relaxation are well documented, and while we’re not quite at the stage of Fiji Holidays being covered by Medicare, more and more people are realising that a holiday can be exactly what the doctor ordered. Here’s how:

Photo: Alex [ www.bytefish.com ]

1. Stress reliefOf all the problems we humans suffer these days, so many can be linked back to stress. Stress is a funny thing—the effect it has on our bodies was originally designed to help us in times of need. That familiar racing of the heart and drying of the mouth we get when we’re under stress is actually a biological tool called the flight or fight reflex. It’s a little evolutionary trick that helps us pull out those extra adrenalin reserves when we need them most—which in prehistoric times, would have been when we were eye-to-eye with a sabre-tooth tiger, for example.

These days, we’re rarely in the kind of life-threatening situation that requires the flight or fight response, but our bodies and brains haven’t figured it out yet. Instead, any old thing—like getting a bill in the mail or being stuck in traffic when you’re running late—can trigger that process in our bodies. This means that our bodies are under a constant state of stress and pressure, and that as a result, our health suffers. Getting away from it all on holidays and allowing ourselves to relax gives us some much-needed recuperation from the constant stress our lives put on our bodies.

2. Vitamin D
Holed up in the office all day, it’s amazing how often it can happen that we leave for work while it’s dark and return home when it’s dark, having very little time during the day to experience the sun on our skin. While skin cancer and Melanoma are problems in Australia, Vitamin D deficiency is on the increase, and it can have all kinds of health affects from depression to brittle bones. Getting away to a spot in the sun means soaking up that Vitamin D for a while, something most of us probably don’t even realise we’re missing out on.  

3. Perspective
Sometimes, a bit of geographical distance from our everyday lives gives us the emotional distance we need to put things into perspective. If you’ve been running yourself into the ground or making poor health choices, getting away on holiday and having some time to think can give you the opportunity to put some plans in place for a healthier, happier you. Whether you’re living it up in Vietnam hotels or trekking through the forest in Canada, the sheer difference of your holiday experiences to those of your everyday life can be enough to spark a change.

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