Researcher Examines Effect of Vacations on Psychological Happiness

Taking a bit of a break from the everyday rhythm of life is often touted as being an effective therapy in and of itself, and scores of people take advantage of the mental and emotional benefits of vacationing each year. Typically aimed at providing a relaxing contrast to the pace and responsibilities of one’s job or family life, vacations often represent a chance to center and collect oneself before heading back to the daily grind. Recently, one researcher found that he wasn’t quite satisfied with basic understanding of the effect of vacations on personal happiness, and so conducted a study to find how such breaks impact mental and emotional well-being, and which types of vacations are best for encouraging greater happiness.

The researcher, associated with Erasmus University in the Netherlands, worked with over fifteen hundred Dutch adults, more than nine hundred of which participated in a vacation during the course of the study. Examining participants from both groups, the study tracked happiness levels while also taking note of the type and duration of the vacation, focusing on feelings during the break as well as immediately afterward.

After compiling and analyzing data, the researcher noted that the study suggests vacations can have a measurable positive benefit on happiness, though the benefits quickly wear off, typically lasting only about two weeks after return and fading completely by the eight week mark. The research also found that taking more frequent and short breaks provided a greater benefit than taking a single longer trip once per year. Among the researcher’s recommendations for those involved in vacations are the suggestions that schools create more flexible schedules to allow for different vacation windows, and that tourism professionals focus their efforts on reducing stress within the traveling process as much as possible.

© Copyright 2010 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

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  • Eric s

    Eric s

    February 21st, 2010 at 11:20 AM

    Coming home from a vacation always leaves me a little sad. You have this wonderful respite from the drudgeries of day to day living while you are vacationing but when you come back home everything is still the same- just more laundry to wash!



    February 21st, 2010 at 12:25 PM

    I completely agree that vacations can provide a good getaway from the daily grind. Although shorter but more vacations may be better than our current practice of a single vacation a year, it is practically difficult to work out more than one single vacation in the calendar for more reasons of finance than anything else.

  • Olivia


    February 22nd, 2010 at 9:57 AM

    My ONLY complaint about vacations is when they are over. I completely identify with the European model of doing vacations- 6 weeks a years will do a lot more healing of my soul that my standard one week of paid vacation ever will. Nothing like a great little getaway to give you a refueling and renewal that you need to make it through the other stresses that life is continually throwing our way.

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