Planning a Vacation is Good for Your Health
Twenty-four sophomore boys eclipse the eight girls in my third period English class. It’s crowded, it’s loud, and sometimes it’s magic. Every day, the same girl from fourth period exasperatedly responds to my circadian “Good morning!” as she walks into class with, “Ms. Wilhelm, you really need to buy an air freshener!”
Planning weekend getaways and summer vacations helps me be more patient and flexible. It allows me to smile at the teenage tornado, and laugh with my student, saying, “Tell me about it! It’s stinky today!” The week after spring break last year, I was already dreaming of summer and sleeping on my big yellow boat, getting rocked to sleep in a calm Main Salmon eddy. My partner Casey and I started blocking out weekends where our schedules aligned and we planned micro-adventures into the mountains together.
We regularly fall asleep dreaming of possibilities. “What about exploring out Warm Lake Road?” Casey might ask, and we imagine different itineraries before I excitedly remember another option, “What about Loon Lake?!” The dream-storming is always punctuated by exhilarated new revelations, “We could bring bikes if we went there!” Or, “Isn’t there a sweet swimming hole out that way?”
Sometimes during my prep period, I check river flows online. I’ll text Casey what the Owyhee is doing, and imagine what 300 cfs looks like at Three Forks Hot Springs and ‘do we need a boat to get across, or could we wade through 300 to get to the hot springs on the other side?’ I giddily imagine the Green Room on the Snake River in a 12-foot boat. Should we bring the dog? Yes! Are we gonna flip? Maybe. Alright, no dog. Okay, other options?
I’m smiling mightily just thinking about it right now. I feel that same smile when my 24 sophomore boys are enormously off-task on a Friday and I’ve tried all my tricks but I somehow find myself thinking about the yellow larches and the changing golden aspen groves Casey and I will be chasing next weekend. With fall colors on my mind, I smile and I try again, “Here we go: page 43.”
It’s not escapism: it’s a health practice.
Taking vacations is beneficial for our health. Time off can significantly decrease stress, strengthen immune function and boost creativity. Taking dedicated time away from work increases productivity and resilience when in the workplace. In fact, taking vacations can even reduce one’s risk of cardiovascular diseases. Vacation is medically, mentally, and emotionally healthy for your heart.
Just the act of planning a vacation can be beneficial, too. Research shows that the anticipation of a trip is often what vacationers enjoy the most, and it produces a significant and long-lasting increase in outlook both personally and professionally. Plus, the planning process can last much longer than an actual vacation, elongating the boost in happiness. Thinking about the Owyhee’s spring runoff got me through an entire quarter and a half last year!
Planning adventures makes me feel closer to my partner. It makes me feel a child-like giddiness and an excitement that propels me through the workweek with more resiliency and grace. It’s about my mental and emotional health. Planning getaways is not about what my third period class gives or takes from me. It’s about my desire to show up for them the best way I can. It’s about wanting to show up in my personal life rejuvenated and present. It’s about striving for balance and giving time and love to all the spheres of my life.
So whether you have two weeks at the holidays, or a weekend in February: what are you waiting for? Think about your heart health! Think about your creativity and productivity; think about your relationship satisfaction and your overall happiness. Time to start dreaming; time to start planning!