Skipping that vacation is bad for your health

WASHINGTON — Far too many of us are skipping a summer vacation, and experts warn people who don’t take time off may be putting their health at risk.

“Vacation is about relaxation, having a chance to unwind,” said psychologist Gregory Jones, clinical director at the Capital Center for Psychotherapy and Wellness in Washington, D.C.

He said that skipping it gives stress an opportunity to grow, which could impact both your body and your mind.

At times of stress, the adrenal glands release a surge of hormones including cortisol, which can affect the immune system.

“Oftentimes, people who end up not taking vacation days end up having to take sick days instead,” Jones said.

Cortisol also can have an impact on the digestive system and has been linked to obesity. Studies have shown high levels of cortisol can lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Jones said people who suffer from unrelenting stress are also more prone to various addictions that start as a coping mechanism, such as smoking and drinking.

Jones emphasized that time off is important not just for your physical health, but your mental and emotional well-being, as well.

He said taking a break can improve relationships. “It gives a chance to spend some quality time with people and make life feel more enriched.”

The travel website Skift surveyed 2,000 Americans in the spring and found 62 percent had no plans to take a 2015 summer vacation. According to the poll, men took less time off than women. but when asked for a reason, more women than men said they just couldn’t afford a vacation this summer.

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