Recovery is not a question of time
Two weeks straight is a must. This, at least, is stated by German labour law, which stipulates 12 continuous days as a mandatory program for an annual vacation. Relevant recovery occurs only after a specific time off. Not true – says science.
For most people, a summer holiday is the most important time of year. Two to three weeks during which you can finally recover. Come down from everyday stress, simply relax and recharge – expectations are high. The awareness that the regenerating effect, which in theory lasts up to ten weeks, often wears off already after one or two weeks is then even more disenchanting.
What accounts for the quality of a holiday? Occupational psychologists and stress researchers know that it’s surely not the length of time. In several, independently performed scientific studies, researchers have found that, in terms of the recovery value, it is completely irrelevant whether the trip was short or long. Much more important was the question as to how the free time was experienced. Depending on each individual’s everyday life and type of personality, one person will experience subjective pleasure from an active holiday, and another from a wellness offer. It’s the mix – as is so often the case in life – that creates the desired balance. A moderate mix between relaxation and athletic or cultural activities brings with it the highest relaxation value. This effect can be enhanced enormously by simply shutting out daily life, learning something new or doing something that one has planned to do for a long time. It mustn’t be anything big. And it works even if it “only” takes place on a long weekend. For example during a city tour or a long weekend in the country. Beautiful inspiration for this is available on internet portals, for example mycitytrip.com.
Anyone that regularly takes short trips will also profit from an added bonus: anticipation. As scientists also found, anticipation represents a major part of the so-called holiday feeling. Everyone that can regularly look forward to a mini-holiday will master daily life much more easily after his or her return. True to the motto: after the holiday is before the holiday.
The consequence is mental relief, which we urgently need in times of general satiation of stimuli. That’s why it would be best to incorporate a small bit of holiday into normal, everyday life, as well. A small, conscious break every day, in between tasks; and a bit more on the weekends. And the next short holiday is right around the corner anyway.