The Health Benefits of Frequent Short Holidays

While we all dream of taking six months off to travel the globe and reconnect with our true selves. Work commitments and family can sometimes limit our ability to conceive such a spectacular journey. For many, frequent short holidays can provide enough downtime to re-energise and satisfy at least some of our adventure needs to cope with our daily life.

The Downsides of Long, Infrequent Holidays

Although a romantic ideal, an extended holiday is not always achievable for many of us, and the anxiety of an impossible target can create more emotional discomfort. Sometimes, the stress of leaving your business, work commitments, children, pets or garden to other people to look after for an extended period is more than the holiday is worth.

Long breaks between getaways can translate to overwhelm and such a build-up of anxiety that true relaxation on a much anticipated holiday can seem almost impossible. Also, the dread of a backlog of tasks when returning from a long holiday can make it seem pretty undesirable. 

What is a Frequent Short Holiday?

For most people, long weekends and 3-5 days off are manageable financially and with work/family commitments. Aiming for a good few of these types of holidays (I’m not putting a numeric value on this) can help achieve as much, if not more, relaxation as one big holiday a year or every 2nd or 3rd year for some.

The essence of a good short holiday is that it takes you away from your familiar environment and allows you to return home refreshed but not additionally stressed. 

The Benefits of Frequent Short Holidays

On the surface, frequent short holidays may appear less desirable than a big long holiday, but let me convince you otherwise.

Financially, frequent short holidays are more achievable. A quick camping trip or a visit to some relatives only a short drive away can be something most can fit into their budget. Those with pets will also find it easier to find a sitter for short-term breaks rather than extended periods.

The build-up and the wind-down of frequent short trips can mean that you are often channelling more energy into holidays than you would if you took fewer frequent breaks. Let me explain it this way; there is a certain amount of anticipation in the lead-up to a holiday; this involves the preparation, planning and discussions involved with your trip. This helps you get into the mood for a holiday and helps build excitement, and studies suggest that this anticipation allows you to create more happiness in your life [1].

After a holiday, there is the wind-down, talking with friends about your adventures, sorting through your photos and chatting with your loved ones about your journey. After this has worn off, you will be planning your next trip, which means you will be more regularly applying energy to your real-life adventures rather than stressing about when the next holiday will eventually come.

Regular short holidays can mean you can explore more places and get to know your environment better. In Australia, we are blessed with an abundance of beaches, forests and small country towns waiting to be discovered by local travellers. This can add to your conversational topics (yes, I’ve been there) and help you appreciate what we have just on our doorstep.

Regular short holidays can help achieve relaxation without the need for special equipment. We all seem to lead busy lives these days, and being able to “switch off” and unwind can be challenging for some. With regular practice, frequent short breaks can help you learn how to de-stress and wind down more quickly. Long term, this re-programming can help with overall stress management and theoretically help with physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

Still not convinced?

A few studies have shown the health benefits of more frequent, short holidays, suggesting that benefits include a strengthened cardiovascular system and (I’m not kidding here) reduced risk of dying [2]. Improved coping, reduced depression, and mental and emotional well-being are just a few benefits of frequent short holidays [3].

Regular, short holidays can help increase your appreciation for life, family and loved ones. Returning to work after a short holiday can enable you to view situations with fresh eyes, help with creativity and encourage clear thinking and productivity. 

I am not suggesting that you forgo that lovely long, well-planned holiday. Ideally, interspersing our big holiday breaks with shorter trips can reduce stress and anxiety and help overall well-being.

Where Are You Going Next Holiday?

While writing this, I am looking forward to a short holiday near Evans Head, yes, a little camping in the winter chill. At the same time, we are planning another getaway in September or October, and then, I’m hoping for a nice week-long (or longer) break over the festive break (fingers crossed). This is a special time for rest, relaxation, and recharging my batteries, plus the anticipation and fond memories of connection with my partner and nature. 

[1] “Vacationers Happier, But Not Most Happier After a Holiday” Jeroen Nawijn, Miquelle A. Marchand, Ruut Veenhoven & Ad J. Vingerhoets.

[2] “Are Vacations Good For Your Health? The 9-Year Mortality Experience After The Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial” Brooks B. Gump, PhD, MPH, and Karen A. Matthew, PhD

[3]  “Leisure as a coping resource: A test of the job demand-control-support model” Allan D. Joudrey & Jean E. Wallace

About The Author

Leonie Satori

Naturopath and Herbalist Leonie is passionate about women’s health, especially perimenopause and all that midlife encompasses for women - anxiety, gut health and hormones. Her holistic and down-to-earth approach to well-being incorporates wisdom from traditional healing practices, including Western herbal medicine and Ayurveda plus over a decade of clinical experience. In her free time, you’ll find Leonie bush-walking, gardening and living life slowly.

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