Friday, 19 March 2010

That Vacation High Does Not Last

I am glad to have read this article. On the occasions when I had the chance to go on vacation, some of them were okay, and some were stressful. For those I found ‘ nice and relaxing’, the ‘nice’ feeling was short-lived. 

This led me to think that there must be something wrong with me, for not knowing how to enjoy a vacation. After reading this article, I know that vacations are ..... overrated? And that there is nothing wrong with me. :-) 

You may feel you are in seventh heaven while lazing on a sunny beach or exploring some quaint faraway little town. But will you be able to take home that feel-good factor? Probably not.

A recent study says that happiness from vacations may be short-lived.

Researchers from the Netherlands set out to measure the effect that vacations have on overall happiness and how long it lasts.

They studied happiness levels among 1,530 Dutch adults, 974 of whom took a vacation during the 32-week study period.

The study, published in the journal Applied Research In Quality Of Life recently, showed that the largest boost in happiness comes from the simple act of planning a vacation. In the study, the effect of vacation anticipation boosted happiness for eight weeks.

After the vacation, happiness quickly dropped back to baseline levels for most people.

How much stress or relaxation a traveller experienced on the trip appeared to influence post-vacation happiness. There was no post-trip happiness benefit for travellers who said the vacation was ‘neutral’ or ‘stressful’.

Surprisingly, even travellers 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 a holiday,” said lead author Jeroen Nawijn, a tourism research lecturer at Breda University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands.

The only vacationers who experienced an increase in happiness after the trip were those who reported feeling “very relaxed” on their vacation. However, even among those people, the vacation happiness effected lasted for just two weeks after the trip before returning to baseline levels.

Mr Nawijn said: “Vacations do make people happy, but we found people who are anticipating holiday trips show signs of increased happiness. Afterwards, there is hardly an effect.”

One reason vacations do not boost happiness after their trip may have to do with the stress of returning to work. Also, for some travelers, the holiday itself was stressful. 

The study did not find any relationship between the length of a vacation
and overall happiness.

Since most of the happiness boost comes from planning and anticipating a vacation, the study suggested that people may get more out of several small trips a year than form one big vacation.

- The New York Times 

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