The Effects of Not Holidaying for a Year on your Mind, Body and Work

02/07/2019

We feel that taking a holiday is an important part of life. We’re lucky enough to jet off from time to time, so we know the benefits it can have on our general wellbeing. That’s why we recently carried out research, speaking to 2,000 Brits, half of whom had been on holiday in the last 12 months and half who hadn’t. This research allowed us to see the value of taking a holiday at least once a year. 

The lure of the sun, sea and sand with complete escape from the stresses of home came out as the most beneficial holiday. 39% of respondents stated they felt there were more benefits from a holiday abroad than staying at home in the UK, which only 14% of people rated as more beneficial. Here’s a look at the benefits a holiday can have on your body, mind and work.

Going on Holiday is Good for your Body

One of the most interesting results from our survey was the comparison between those who have and haven’t holidayed in the last 12 months when compared over several wellness factors. We asked respondents to rate themselves on different factors relating to wellbeing and compared the results of those who said they felt ‘good’ or ‘very good’.

According to the results, the effects of time spent unwinding by the pool and soaking up vitamin D from the sun are clearly very positive. Of those who had been on holiday in the last 12 months, 43% said their overall health was good, this is compared to a much lower 29% of those who hadn’t.

Further to this, those who had been away in the last year showed significantly higher levels of energy and fitness. 32% of people who had been away recently felt their energy levels were good, this is compared to 22% of people who hadn’t had a break in that period. Similarly, 32% who’d been on holiday said their fitness levels were good, compared to only 23% who hadn’t.

Despite a holiday only being a temporary break from the norm, the effects clearly make a difference long-term. 38% of our respondents who had been on holiday in the last year said they were getting good quality sleep, just 25% of those who hadn’t been away could say the same.

Taking an annual holiday also helps relieve stress, with 36% of people who’d been away saying they had low levels of stress. Unfortunately for those who haven’t been away, they’re more likely to suffer from stress, with only 26% reporting low levels.

Dr Luke James, UK Insurance Medical Director at Bupa, commented on the findings, “Going on holiday can be good for your health. Too much stress can negatively impact your physical health; taking a holiday can have restorative health effects by removing you from the day-to-day stresses from your regular routine. Furthermore, research has shown that taking holidays can even help to prolong your life.

For some, holidays are the perfect time to catch up on sleep. Keeping a clear schedule whilst you’re away and not setting your daily alarm clock can help you get all the uninterrupted sleep you need and make sure you’re not expending any unnecessary energy.

Taking part in holiday activities – like walking, surfing, climbing, jogging, swimming and cycling - may help to improve your fitness levels whilst you’re away, depending on the speed and intensity of the exercise.”

Taking a Break is Good for the Mind

Considering the fast pace of everyday life, it’s no wonder that taking care of our mental health is becoming an even bigger issue. Taking some time out of work to switch off our minds on holiday could play a key role in maintaining good mental health.

Our study revealed that half (48%) of those surveyed who’d holidayed in the last 12 months reported that they felt happy in their everyday lives, this compared to only 33% of those who’d not been on holiday.

The research also showed a similar pattern when it comes to respondent’s mental health. 46% of people who’d been away in the last year said they felt their mental health was good. Those who haven’t been away didn’t feel quite so positive, with only 34% saying their mental health was good. There was a similar difference when looking at anxiety levels, with 37% of those who’d holidayed saying they had low levels of anxiety, compared to 26% of those who haven’t.

Finally, we looked at the effects an annual holiday could have on a relationship, finding that getting away and soaking up some sun has real benefits. Over half (53%) of those who’d been away said they felt positive in their relationship, with only 39% of those who hadn’t saying the same.

Calvin Benton, Co-Founder of message-based therapy app Spill, provides further insight: “We're dealing with an unprecedented level of stimulus in our daily lives whilst feeling the pressure to be productive at work, attentive at home and fun with our friends - all exacerbated by the magnifying glass of social media.

“According to a survey by the Mental Health Foundation in 2017, 74% of adults were so stressed or anxious at some point last year that they 'felt like they couldn't cope'. It's more important now than ever to take proper holidays: it's when we have a chance to reset our circadian rhythm, which hugely influences our hormone production and mood. It helps us clear our heads so that we can come back to work ready to be creative and productive. Taking a holiday deals with the symptoms of stress and anxiety.”

A Holiday Positively Affects Work Performance

We asked respondents to answer some work-related questions, giving insight into the importance of holidays within the workplace. The new research has shown there were several points where workers who had been on holiday felt more positive than those who haven’t been away.

45% of people who have been on a recent holiday said they had a better work-life balance, compared to 30% who hadn’t.

We’ve also proven that holidays have a great benefit on motivation within the workplace, with 39% of people who’d been on holiday rating their everyday motivation as good or very good, this is compared to less than a quarter (24%) of those who hadn’t been on holiday. The same can be said for productivity, which 43% of those who’d been on holiday rated as good, compared to 28% who hadn’t.

Taking time away from work has also shown to have positive effects on the careers of our respondents. 37% said they’d felt more positive about their career after taking a holiday in the last year, whereas on 22% of those who hadn’t been away felt the same positivity. This career motivation could be linked with an increase in finances, 41% of those who’d holidayed reported having good finances, with only 26% of those who hadn’t saying the same.

Darren Yap, founder of Wimble Wellness, specialists in practical mindfulness training to reduce workplace stress, said about the results: “When you take time out from work, especially for a holiday, your mind takes a proverbial breather. I find that when I take time out, even for 20 minutes to do some exercise or practice mindfulness, it has a refreshing effect on the brain and allows me to focus better when I'm back at my desk. Going on holiday will only result in wider-reaching benefits.”

British Workers Prioritise Holiday

As part of the survey, we asked respondents to tell us what factors they felt were most important when looking for a new employer. From this, we were able to ascertain the top ten most important things to UK workers.

Top 10 most important things to UK workers:

1. Salary – 96%

2. Holiday Allowance/Annual Pay Rises – 91%

3. Pension – 89%

4. Learning and Training – 84%

5. Flexible Working Hours – 81%

6. Opportunities for Promotion – 78%

7. Extra Days Holiday with Time of Service – 74%

8. Health Insurance – 61%

9. Perinatal Leave Packages – 55%

10. Ability to Buy Extra Holiday – 44%

As the results clearly show, holiday allowance is an extremely important factor for employers and ranks as more important than the likes of pension and opportunities for promotion. The fact that holiday allowance comes alongside annual pay rises and second only to salary shows that employers must focus on this area in order to attract the best staff.

To support the findings of the research, we compared the minimum holiday allowance of the top ten countries in the World Happiness Index. This correlated with our study, showing that nations with a higher minimum allowance are higher placed. Of the top ten, eight nations had a higher minimum allowance than the EU minimum of 20 days.

Position in World Happiness Index

Country

Minimum Allowance

Public Holidays

Total Holiday Allowance

1

Finland

25

11

36

2

Denmark

25

11

36

3

Norway

25

10

35

4

Iceland

24

12

36

5

Netherlands

20

8

28

6

Switzerland

20

7

27

7

Sweden

25

9

34

8

Austria

25

13

38

9

Luxembourg

Private Sector: 26

Public Sector: 32

Aged 50-54: 34

Over 55: 36

11

37

43

45

47

10

UK

20

8

28

Lowest

Turkey

12

14.5

26.5

 

Methodology

  • The survey research in this study is accredited by the Market Research Society and meets ESOMAR guidelines on opinion polls and published surveys
  • Full survey results are available for journalists on request
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