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Conventional wisdom suggests that we all need a vacation from time to time, and this is backed up by science. Numerous studies suggest that vacations can reduce stress, possibly by taking people away from environments and activities that they associate with anxiety and stress. In fact, these positive effects continue several weeks after people return from their vacations. The Harvard Business Review (HBR) has said that those who take more than 10 days of vacation in a year are more likely to get a raise and/or a promotion, and that 94 percent of vacations have a good return on investment. But what about that 6 percent? As it turns out, it is possible for a vacation to deliver none of the mental health benefits mentioned above. ALSO READ: 10 endangered animals in India that you should see before they vanish!
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Many of us have had nightmare vacations that often make us even more tense and angrier than before we left. As it turns out, research agrees with the angry vacationers. Not all vacations are all fun, sunshine and happiness. A 2010 Dutch study published in the Applied Research in Quality of Life journal looked at around 1,500 people. The researchers asked these folks about their happiness before and after going on a vacation. Surprisingly, there was no change in the happiness level on average. What, then, is the point of taking a vacation if you are not happier than you were before you left? More importantly, why were all these people not happier? Also Read - The New Normal? Salon Workers Covered In PPE Kits While Giving Haircuts, Images Go Viral

Travel bleisure

When HBR looked at the study data more closely, they found what could be the answer to the latter question. They found out that those who reported moderate or high stress related to travel ended up with no significant gain in their happiness levels. Travel-related stress includes all the stress associated with dealing with trip planning and the nitty-gritties, managing transportation while on the trip, lack of a safe feeling when travelling and unfamiliarity with the location. The stress from all of this seems to have made travelers feel less happy. How do we solve this problem?

To find the answer to this question, Shawn Achor, author of New York Times bestselling book The Happiness Advantage and Before Happiness and frequent HBR contributor, worked with Michelle Gielan, a happiness researcher at the Institute of Applied Positive Research, to survey 414 travelers in 2013. They found that only certain types of travel give you the positive effects that are so commonly associated with vacations. They found that traveling in itself is not to be blamed for making you less happy. There were strong correlations between happiness during the trip and energy after joining back at work, and between happiness and stress on a bad trip.

To put it in layman’s terms, the stress that you take during a vacation is connected to how happy you are. Stressful vacations and bad planning can erode away the positives of a trip. And the more stress you take, the less benefits you get from it. A well-managed and positive vacation can see you returning home and at work less stressed and happier than before. You will have more energy to give at work and, most importantly, you come back with a greater sense of purpose and meaning. The study by Shawn Achor and Michelle Gielan found that 94 percent of people who went on a good vacation, came back with the same or more energy. ALSO READ: 25 countries Indians can visit without a visa

budget travel

Figuring out the details of the trip, including uncertainty about the plan, transportation, unfamiliarity with the destination and wasting time figuring things while on the trip, was the source for 74 percent of travel-related stress. If you have trouble figuring these things out, try alleviating your stress by asking help from others or simply letting a travel agent handle these things. Even better, start the planning process early. The study found that 90 percent of all the respondents who had good trips planned out the details of their trip over a month in advance. In comparison, 28 percent of those who had bad trips were still figuring out the details just before or during their trips.

Another good way to ensure that you have a good vacation: get far away. A typical vacation to a nearby getaway had little positive effect on stress or happiness. However, 84 percent of the most positive trips in the last five years were to destinations abroad. A Twitter study had found the same results: the farther away you got from home, the happier you got. Also, 94 percent of those traveling found that their holiday was more meaningful than just staying at home.

As for the stress associated with lack of safety and knowledge of the location, this can be solved by simply mingling with and meeting someone who does have the knowledge. Shawn and Michelle’s study found that 77 percent of those who had good trips actually had a friend who knew the location or met a local host. This was 35 percent more than those who reported bad trips. Besides, mingling with the locals is often the best way to experience and enjoy the culture, cuisine and sights of any destination. ALSO READ: 10 Of The Best Travel Agencies In India That Will Make Trip Planning A Cake Walk For You

Story: Harvard Business Review

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