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Winter Stress-Away

Winter Stress-Away

Vacationing could lead to longer life

Are you guilty of stockpiling your vacation days?  Most of us have been there at one time or another. In fact more than 50% of American workers end the year with unused paid time off (PTO).  Surveys suggest that we just can’t bear to return to a mountain of work, feel that no one can cover for us, or we simply cannot afford to get away!  One study, planned for print in the Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging sheds new light on how our idle PTO days affect our health.

Researchers worked with just over 1,200 male executives that had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD) – think smoking, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol or triglycerides, glucose intolerance or being overweight.  The men were split into two groups; one group received standard health care while the other received reminders, supporting them in living a healthy lifestyle by providing tips on diet, how to achieve a healthy weight, how to quit smoking and exercise recommendations.  And it worked!  At the end of the study, men receiving reminders reduced their risk of CVD by a whopping 46%.  However 15 years later, investigators saw that the intervention group had more deaths!

Confused about how participants who enjoyed extra health messaging had higher risk of death?  S-T-R-E-S-S!  Upon further investigation, researchers believe that intense work style and overall stress levels may be the culprit.  In this study, men who took less than three weeks vacation annually actually worked more and slept less, likely had more stress than men who took more vacation.  Findings from this study support including stress management as part of CVD risk reduction recommendations.

An important part of life is work-life balance. If you’re all about work, all the time, then there is a good chance that other areas of your life need attention—family, health, hobbies.  If you don’t think you can take a full week off at a time, try planning a long weekend to build in time to relax away from the hustle and bustle of the office.  The holidays are a perfect time to do it!  Plan a day to do your holiday shopping, prepare a healthy meal, or make our crafty cranberry decorations with your family.  We challenge you—try not to leave unused vacation on the table this year.  You can reduce stress by using them and just may live longer in the process.

Published December 1, 2018

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