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July 2012 - VACATIONS and REST on the SABBATH day
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FACT:  Researchers from the Netherlands measured the effect that vacations have on overall happiness and how long it lasts. Surveying 1,530 adults, they found after a vacation, happiness quickly dropped back to baseline levels for most people within two weeks.  Surprisingly, even those travelers who described the trip as “relaxing” showed no additional jump in happiness after the trip. “They were no happier than people who had not been on holiday.”

HOPE:  The same study, however, found that that the effect of vacation anticipation boosted happiness for eight weeks.  Having something positive to look forward to helps reduce negativity in our daily lives.  Increase your happiness quotient today by spending a few minutes planning your next vacation.

 
FACT:  A recent study found that regularly working overtime increases the risk of heart disease by 60 percent. Yet the typical American works 47 hours a week—164 more hours per year than only 20 years ago—and one-third don’t even take all their earned vacation days. And that doesn’t even count additional work responsibilities at home or a second job.  

HOPE:  Research suggests that it is not the intensity of energy expenditure that produces burnout, but rather the duration of expenditure without recovery.  God foresaw our dilemma, and gave us the Sabbath—a weekly gift of physical, mental and spiritual renewal in our demanding lives. 

 
FACT:  Taking a vacation is good for your health.  Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh studied 12,338 men for nine years as part of a large coronary heart disease study called MRFIT.  They found that annual vacations by middle-aged men at high risk for coronary heart disease was associated with a significant reduction in all-cause mortality and more specifically death due to heart disease.  And the renowned Framingham Heart Study showed that women who take at least two vacations a year are eight times less likely to have coronary disease.
 
HOPE:   As health promoters, we often advocate eating a healthy diet and increasing physical activity.  Encouraging people to take regular breaks from work is another way we can lower health risks in our churches and communities.

 
FACT:   Chronic stress brought on by a large lingering event or an accumulation of small daily stresses can impact our decision-making skills. Researchers from the National Institutes of Health showed that under chronic stress our ability to think through goal-oriented decisions cease; instead, we make reactive automatic decisions.

HOPE:   By breaking the everyday stress cycle, we strengthen our decision-making skills and end up making smarter choices for ourselves and those around us. Without the weekly renewal of the Sabbath, we cannot truly experience a healthy life.
 
References:
  • Nawijn, J., Marchand, M. A., Veenhoven, R. & Vingerhoets, A. J. (2010). Vacations happier, but most not happier after a holiday. Journal of Applied Research in Quality of Life, 5, 35-47.
  • Schwartz, T., & Gomes, J. (2010). The way we're working isn't working: The four forgotten needs that energize great performance. London: Simon & Schuster.
  • Gump, B. & Matthews, K. (2000). Are vacations good for your health? The 9-year mortality experience after the multiple risk factor intervention trial. Psychosomatic Medicine, 62, 608-612.
  • Eaker, E. D., Pinsky, J. & Castelli, W. P. (1992).  Myocardial infarction and coronary death among women: Psychosocial predictors from a 20-year follow-up of women in the Framingham Study.  American Journal of Epidemiology, 135(8), 854-864.
  • Ohira, H., Matsunaga, M., Kimura K., Murakami, H., Osumi,T., Isowa, T. et.al. (2011). Chronic stressmodulates neural and cardiovascular responses during reversal learning. Neuroscience, 193, 193-204. 

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