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Happy From Your Vacation? It Won't Last
Date:3/12/2010

Most travelers return to their normal state of mind soon after they get back, study finds

FRIDAY, March 12 (HealthDay News) -- No matter how cheerful you felt as you wiggled your toes in the sand on that secluded beach, no matter how thrilled you were to finally lay eyes on that Renaissance masterpiece, your vacation bliss won't last long.

Sadly, new research shows the happiness boost many experience while vacationing dissipates soon after they get home to the pile of laundry and overflowing in-box at work.

Researchers from the Netherlands quizzed 974 vacationers about their happiness before and after a holiday trip and compared their answers to 556 who were not planning to travel.

Participants anticipating taking a trip reported feeling happier than people who did not have a trip planned, the team found

But shortly after their return, researchers found no differences in the happiness of those who had vacationed compared to those who'd stayed home.

"Our assumption is that people go back to work, school, et cetera, and quickly fall back into their daily routines, possible even having to do more work than normal as they need to catch up," said lead study author Jeroen Nawijn, a tourism research lecturer at Breda University of Applied Sciences.

Only the group of travelers who described their trip as "very relaxed" seemed to hold on to their happiness for any length of time. Their happiness level was elevated for two weeks after returning, with their happiness gradually decreasing, reaching their pre-trip happiness level eight weeks out.

The study is in the Feb. 10 online issue of the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life.

Happiness researchers said the findings fit with the notion of a "set point" for happiness, or the idea that everyone has a baseline of happiness that we return to after either positive or negative events.

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