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Frequent Vacations Ease Mental Stress

A news study suggests that those who take vacations frequently are less likely to be affected by mental problems like tension, depression or tiredness and are more satisfied with their marriages.//

Cathy McCarty and other researchers at Marshfield Clinic studied 1,500 women recruited from the Marshfield Epidemiological Study Area, a geographic area in central Wisconsin, US, reports science portal EurekAlert.

The study conducted between 1996 and 2001 compared psychological stress, quality of marital life and disruptive home life due to work pressures among a group of women who took vacations frequently and those who did not.

The researchers mailed the participants questionnaires seeking information about personal health history, symptoms of tension and depression, quality of marital life, social support, job control and socio-economic status.

The self-reported health events were then verified through electronic medical records available at Marshfield Clinic.

Results found that a majority of those surveyed took a vacation once a year (34 percent), followed by twice a year (23.4 percent), once every two to five years (23.2 percent) and once every six years or less (19.4 percent).

"It's shocking to me that nearly one in five women we studied reported taking a vacation only once in six years," McCarty said.

The odds of tension increased among women who took vacations once a year, once in two to five years or once every six years compared to women who took vacations twice or more per year.

Similar results were found for depression. The odds of being depressed increased as the frequency of vacation decreased. In addition, women who took vacations only once in six years thought their home life was more disruptive due to work, felt more tired and exhausted and had less than eight hours of sleep.

"Vacations provide a break from everyday stressors. They allow us time away from work or home and help us release built-up tension," McCarty said.

"This study proves vacations are good for your mental health and may help you do a better job at work. Employers should be supportive of time off because they benefit from having relaxed, happy employees."


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