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Science Found A Way To Improve Your Vacay

Science Found A Way To Improve Your Vacay

There’s a scientific reason you feel so great after a trip away, and it’s been dubbed “The Vacation Effect”. It’s been proven that taking a relaxing trip can have enormous benefits to your health,  and can even assist your body in repairing and recovering itself on a cellular level.

But it gets better. Scientists from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, the University of California, San Francisco, and Harvard Medical School have teamed up to help us figure out how to extend this post-holiday buzz. The answer? Meditate while you’re away.

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The study in question involved 94 healthy women, aged 30-60. Participants stayed at the same resort in California for six days with half simply on vacation while the other half joined a meditation training program run by the Chopra Centre for Well Being. The meditation program included training in mantra meditation, yoga, and self reflection exercises.

Blood samples and surveys were conducted before, during and after their vacations and the results are pretty conclusive. “Our results point to both a significant ‘vacation effect’ that benefitted all groups, and a suppression of stress-related responses and immune function related to acute-phase wound healing and inflammation,” the authors write in their study.

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The post-resort surveys indicated that all participants reported increased feelings of wellbeing even a month after their holiday, but again the biggest benefits were seen in those who took part in meditation while on the retreat – with novice meditators reporting fewer feelings of depression and less stress even 10 months after their time away.

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Photo: Matthew Ragan/Flickr

“It’s intuitive that taking a vacation reduces biological processes related to stress, but it was still impressive to see the large changes in gene expression from being away from the busy pace of life, in a relaxing environment, in such a short period of time,” said Elissa S. Epel, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry at University of California.

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Excellent news, but there is a slight caveat: the study makes a point to define these positive holiday changes as occurring at “a resort vacation”, meaning bar-hopping your way around Europe is not likely to produce the same effects. But, if you needed another excuse to pack up and “get away from it all” (both physically and mentally), this is definitely it. Science says so.

The study was published in the journal Translational Psychiatry.

(Lead Image: Zach Dischner/Flickr)

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