It’s no secret that Americans are overworked and experiencing high levels of stress. On top of that, the United States recently hit a 40 year record high of vacation days going unused each year, with as many as 2 in 5 Americans not taking all of their vacation time. Travel improves brain function and mood, reduces stress, eases anxiety and depression, and makes you healthier and happier. Best of all, the positive mental health benefits of travel start before you leave and last even after you return from your vacation.
The Mental Health Benefits of Travel
Reasons for not taking a vacation include: feeling pressured to not use those vacation days, not wanting to disappoint coworkers, or fear of losing a job. This trend is a shame because taking time off work for travel is actually good for you and may help boost your productivity on the job.
As it turns out, travel provides many mental and emotional health benefits. Numerous studies have linked current American working conditions to a variety of physical and mental health conditions, ranging from heart disease to foggy brain function to premature death.
“Workaholism” is now viewed as a true addiction that disrupts sleep and decreases productivity. On the other hand, taking some time off work can help you feel rested, rejuvenated, focused, and motivated when you return to to the job.
Once you’ve convinced your boss that you need a vacation, you’ll want to pick an ideal location. To make the most of your time off, consider choosing travel destinations near the ocean. Research shows large, blue spaces such as ocean water help reduce our levels of “psychological distress.”
Why is the ocean so healing? In addition to the healing benefits of ocean air and the soothing experience of swimming in the sea, science suggests that the natural backdrop of the ocean is easily processed by our brains, reduces sensory overload, and promotes mental health and relaxation.
If you’re ready for your next trip to the beach, here are some destinations you might consider:
The Florida Panhandle
If you want a truly relaxing vacation that isn’t as packed with tourists as the Atlantic coast, the Florida Panhandle might be for you. You’ll find pristine beaches that are quieter and less touristy than other parts of Florida.
Destin offers a quiet location that is surrounded by natural beauty. Meanwhile, Panama City Beach is a beautiful vacation spot year-round. Lovingly referred to as “the Emerald Coast,” this part of Florida offers activities for people of all ages.
If you’re looking for ocean views with some of the most beautiful white sand beaches in the world; you simply can’t go wrong with the Florida Panhandle.
Gulf Shores, AL
Although Alabama might not be the first state that comes to mind when you think of the ocean; one visit to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach will change your opinion about the “Heart of Dixie.”
With the laid-back lifestyle of the southern state’s tranquil coasts; it’s easy to see why millions of tourists flock to Alabama’s beaches each year. From cozy bed and breakfast spots to the pampering atmosphere of oceanfront spas; it’s easy to relax in a place like Gulf Shores.
Outer Banks, NC
If you’re looking to unwind surrounded by nature rather than by tourists, North Carolina’s Outer Banks is a vacation destination that doesn’t disappoint. The gorgeous northern beaches have something for everyone.
You can swim in the ocean, stroll through the maritime forests of Nags Head Woods, or enjoy some southern cooking near the sand dunes. And where else can you spot wild horses frolicking across a remote beach at sunset?
Regardless of where you decide to go for your next vacation, it’s important to plan ahead and do some research. For the ultimate in relaxation; and getting the best mental health benefits of travel, choose a destination that is close to nature; preferably, to the ocean and one that allows you to unwind in the soothing scenery. This will allow you to experience a vacation that soothes your mind, boosts your mood, and improves your mental health even after you return from vacation.