Reflection on Friday- Health Benefits to Vacation

“A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you’ve been taking.” Earl Wilson

“A vacation is having nothing to do and all day to do it in.” Robert Orben

The Benefit of Vacation to Your Health: In many ways, this post is apparent and meaningless. We all know that relieving or removing stress from your daily life is a real plus for anyone, but especially valuable if you have Parkinson’s. One of the most obvious ways to achieve stress reduction is taking a vacation and taking a break from work (and there are many ways to ‘take a break from work’).

As an established workaholic, my pattern for many (far too many) years was to take several 3-day weekends as my primary source of vacation. I know it isn’t enjoyable to admit this, but it’s true. When I would describe my work ethic during numerous trips to Europe to visit collaborators, friends, universities, and companies, the typical reply was, ‘that’s crazy.’ I had one dear friend in Europe tell me that he (and his family) would take off 3-consecutive weeks. You were still emotionally tied to work during the first week on holiday and got little rest from the time away. The second week you were further away from work and almost there to a relaxed state of mind. And finally, the third week was indeed the relaxing and vital week where the first and the last thing on their minds would be work. This last week was the real reason for taking the vacation in the first place.

“It isn’t how much time you spend somewhere that makes it memorable: it’s how you spend the time.” David Brenner

Advice From my Friends: Many of my best friends from graduate school are already retired, and they have been most supportive of my academic career. When I mentioned that I was doing phased retirement for the next three years, several gave me advice on how to get ready to phase-down, prepare not to work as many hours, and get prepared for retired life. One thought expressed was similar to that above, take three weeks off, do as little as possible work-related, but if you do work, pace yourself. Having followed this advice about taking time away from work, I noticed how physically and emotionally better I felt. I was well-rested. Furthermore, there was a significant reduction in my stress levels. Thus, my Parkinson’s symptoms seemed to be under better control.

“I came out of retirement to run a start-up, Historically, I seldom used all of my vacation time, and the last sick day I took was in 1992. I am a sick puppy.” Maynard Webb

A Vacation/Holiday is Good for You*: I now definitely agree with all of the above comments. Taking a vacation to get away from your job, career, and routine life is a good thing. Going on holiday is far better for reducing your stress levels, recharging your body, and enabling you to be better at managing your Parkinson’s. And genuinely, taking time off is better for your relationships with everyone in your life. For all of the workaholics out there, the mental stand down will optimize you for when you start back to work, you will likely find a more relaxed group of colleagues awaiting your return, and your life-work-job-career will feel better. 

Most importantly, the time off will be incredibly beneficial for you and your Parkinson’s. Finally, you are ready to re-enter the ring and continue controlling the daily assault of your disorder. So live with hope, stay strong, and enjoy your vacation/holiday whenever they occur.

“What do I want to take home from my summer vacation? Time. The wonderful luxury of being at rest. The days when you shut down the mental machinery that keeps life on track and let life simply wander. The days when you stop planning, analyzing, thinking and just are. Summer is my period of grace.” Ellen Goodman

*Of course, with the COVID-19 pandemic still present throughout the world, please be careful on any vacation/holiday, follow the local area rules, and weigh the risk of viral infection to vacation. It is that important to think about in the current time.

Cover photo image by Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay

Quote photo image by Leonhard Niederwimmer from Pixabay

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