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The Secret to Good Health? Vacations! A Doctor's Guide to the Benefits of Time Away from Work

Right off the bat, I have a few questions for you:

  1. Are you feeling stressed and tired?

  2. Frustrated with your work colleagues?

  3. Having pain in your joints and/or back?

  4. Feeling like your body "pop dung"? (translation: broken down)

If you answered 'Yes' to any of the above questions, I've got a prescription for you…it’s time for a vacation!

 

We have a saying here in Barbados which is kinda boasty but quite accurate. It goes, “I live where you vacation - because truthfully it is a popular tourist destination, which is our very own backyard. Now as an honorary Jamaican, I feel the same way about Jamaica. There are so many beautiful places to visit in Jamaica, that you could vacation for years without once leaving the country!


Side note: if you’re wondering how I got this title of 'honorary Jamaican', I studied and worked in Jamaica for 6 years and became quite acclimatized (i.e. fell in love) with the culture, so my friends consider me half Jamaican, half Bajan!☺


The Meat of the Matter

Now that introductions are out of the way, tell me in the comments below, when was the last time you went on vacation? And I mean a real vacation, not one of those 'take a few days off but still taking work calls' kind of vacations, but one where you took at least 2 weeks off from work, shut off your work phone, ignored work emails, got quality rest and actually did fun activities? HMM???



If you had asked me that question a month ago, I would’ve had to admit, I hadn’t had a real vacation in over than 2 years. Yikes!


Recently however, I got...or rather took the opportunity to go to my second home, Jamaica, for a real, extended vacation, praise the Lord! Now this vacation was very interesting to say the least and didn’t go the way I planned AT ALL- that’s a whole story in itself which will unfold in this blog post - BUT let’s talk about why I highly recommend a vacation for every working adult at least twice a year.

 

The Hard Cold Facts

In a 2021 article, Forbes Magazine revealed some shocking statistics, including a study done by the World Health Organization in 2016, that some 750,000 people died from heart attacks and strokes solely due to the effects of working long hours. The article revealed that those who work more than 55 hours per week have a 35% higher risk of dying from stroke and a 17% higher risk of dying from heart attack than those who worked a normal 35-40 hour week.


The conclusions were as follows:

  1. You shouldn’t push your body to work consistently long hours (it was NOT created for that);

  2. Taking a vacation could actually save your life!

Resting by the lake
Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Rest is "the cessation of motion or action of any kind and applicable to any body or being; as rest from labour; rest from mental exertion; rest of body and mind.” - KJV Dictionary


Whereas a vacation is "an extended period of leisure and recreation, especially one spent away from home, work or in traveling." - Oxford Dictionary


Therefore, you can actually rest daily but you’ve got to be intentional to plan and schedule a vacation in between the demands of your vocational and home life. If you didn’t know this, just the process of planning out your vacation leave in advance has been shown to be a therapeutic form of self-care, because you give yourself something to look forward to!

 

5 Reasons to Take Frequent Vacations

Resting regularly and going on vacation yearly can help your overall wellness as it:

  1. Reduces your stress levels

  2. Improves your heart health and reduces the risk for chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension

  3. Improves brain function, concentration and memory

  4. Improves your mental health and decreases depression and anxiety symptoms

  5. Improves your sleep quality...and the list could go on!

 

Your Vacation Prescription

If you've read this far, I hope you can agree that a vacation is well needed. So what's next? A prescription of course! I've put together a list of 10 options to help you along:

  1. Go on a cruise - this has become very popular again because many cruise lines offer affordable packages for e.g., A 7-day cruise with stops in up to 7 different countries for an all-inclusive experience

  2. Go to a beach house or rent a cabin/villa with some friends

  3. Book an Airbnb (that’s my go to) near to high activity cities/areas then go exploring

  4. Bunk at a friend’s/relative's house for a change of scenery and do some fun/relaxing activities together

  5. Plan a 'Do Nothing' day! That's right. No responsibilities, no strenous activities...just stay in bed, eat good food, watch TV or read a good book.

  6. Have a Spa Day

  7. Try canoeing, biking, or hiking (i.e. if you’re the outdoorsy and active type)

  8. Have a Games Night with some friends and/or family

  9. Go Restaurant hopping (for all the foodies out there like me)

  10. Go to the beach, a river or hike to a waterfall (let’s stick a pin here)

The Maldives
Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Fun Fact: Did you know that a regular dose of Vitamin Sea (i.e. sea water) has many healing properties such as muscle relaxation, improvement of arthritic/joint pains, clearing of the sinuses, exfoliation of the skin (from the sand) and just overall improvement of mental health? I think that’s why beach days are my favourite days! Share with me in the commments, what are some activities that you like to do on vacation?


Sir...ma’am...have you booked that vacation as yet? Madd About Jamaica has great reviews on resorts in Jamaica. Click here to read them!

 

How to Manage Getting Sick While on Vacation

I know, I know, it's ironic right? To mitigate the likelihood of getting sick, one should take regular vacations, but what do you do if you do get sick while on vacation?


Story Time: Remember earlier I'd told you that I had a very interesting vacation recently? Well, besides the fact that my suitcase got destroyed or that my Airbnb cancelled on me last minute, in addition to that, I broke my toe (Yes, you read that right) AND caught a really bad bacterial upper respiratory tract infection (which I thought was COVID-19, but thank God it wasn’t).

While I may be a doctor, the fact is I am away from home and my go-to resources. Thankfully, I had my wonderful Jamaican doctor friends who really took care of me and helped a sister out. But what if I didn’t have their support? I’d have been caught off guard!


The Fool-Proof Recovery Plan

The plan is to get back to optimal health as soon as possible! Here are four tips to ensure a speedy recovery while on Vacation, wherever you are in the world:

  1. Pack an emergency First-Aid Kit! - Click here for an affordable travel-sized option.

  2. Before your trip, research the nearest health care facilities to where you'll be staying.

  3. Download the MDLink app, which is a telemedicine platform now available in many countries.

  4. Ensure that you pack and have on your person any and all prescription medication for any underlying conditions that you may have (take along extra medication too just in case!). Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean your body takes a break from operating how it usually does.

Black Female Doctor
Photo courtesy of Pixabay

The truth is, a vacation will be whatever you make of it. Sometimes things don’t always go the way you plan (I know from experience), but it’s still a good idea to plan out your adventures, rest and relaxation so that you make the most of the time you have.


Yours Truly,

Dr. Esther Trotman (Star)

 

About the Author: Dr. Esther Trotman is a 20-something Medical Doctor based in Barbados with a passion for primary health care and whole person health. Though born and raised in Barbados, she travelled to Jamaica to read for her MBBS degree at UWI Mona. While in Jamaica, she grew in other passions such as dancing, traveling, and writing. She developed a burden for helping people heal from physical illnesses, as well as mental health and social issues such as emotional and spiritual struggles.


She launched a lifestyle blog addressing these issues, which blossomed into her holistic health and wellness consultancy, Star Wellness Lifestyle. Dr. Trotman is certified in Advanced Holistic Counselling and Psychology, as well as Diet and Nutrition Management. She is also the author of the Wholistic Wellness Journal, available on Amazon anywhere in the world!


Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored. All views are that of the author.



7 Comments


Eromonsele Oigiagbe
Eromonsele Oigiagbe
May 23, 2022

I like the facts and prescriptions in this post. And yeah, we all need a vacation.

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Ashley Simon-Madden
Ashley Simon-Madden
May 23, 2022
Replying to

Do you have your next vacation already planned?

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Ashley Simon-Madden
Ashley Simon-Madden
May 23, 2022

I said 'Yes' to too many of the first 4 questions! 😢Counting down the days til my next vacation. Thanks for the prescription Doc 😉

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Esther J Trotman
Esther J Trotman
May 23, 2022
Replying to

Aww something to look forward to indeed! You're welcome 😊

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Kathrina Bennett
Kathrina Bennett
May 22, 2022

This article spoke to me DIRECTLY! Vacations WITHOUT work calls should be the norm! I totally agree with making it a norm to take those vacations days.

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Ashley Simon-Madden
Ashley Simon-Madden
May 23, 2022
Replying to

Heavy on the NO work calls! That goes for emails too. Best believe they're gonna get that 'out of office' auto-response.

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