Vacation time is a big deal. In our careers, time off is the most important factor we consider, next to wages and medical coverage. We anticipate and count the days to summer vacation, Christmas break, Spring break and the rest of the holidays. The entire hospitality industry, including the Island Inn Sanibel, depends on the fact that people like to “get away from it all.” But other than a tan, happy memories and some sand in your luggage, what do you get out of it?

Evidence is growing that people benefit from vacations in a number of ways. In fact, our physical health may depend on the changes in chemistry and rebalancing that happens when we take leave of our everyday habits and break the patterns.

It’s All About Stress

Stress is a pretty vague word. It’s also universal – we all experience stress. Stress is natural and important – it helps us pay attention during emergencies, for example, and prepares the body for a struggle. Unfortunately, the effects of stress can accumulate, reduce our immune response and trigger inflammation that can lead to all sorts of chronic diseases including cancers and cardiovascular disease. Nobody likes that. That’s where vacation comes in.

Letting Go

Most people aren’t mind-control gurus. Very few of us can sit down for 10 minutes at the end of the day, cross our legs, take a few deep breaths and levitate half an inch off the floor. The rest of us need an extended period of time away from our normal routine. When we take a vacation, we stop pressing those stress triggers because we are away from all of the cues that cause us stress – the telephone and computer on our desk, our co-workers and the project list. Less stress means fewer stress hormones in the bloodstream, giving the body the chance to heal and recover. Specifically, the incidence of depression is known to decrease after a vacation (source: Marshfield Clinic Study, 2005). Thyroid function, in particular, is sensitive to stress hormones; reducing the amount of stress hormones with a good dose of vacation is a positive event for all of the functions controlled by the thyroid, including metabolism and aspects of neurological health.

The Island Inn doesn’t lay claim to any particular medical knowledge. But we can definitely see a difference in our guests when they leave. We’ve never proved it scientifically, but we’ve known since 1898 that a vacation at the Island Inn on Sanibel is good for your health!