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Three-day Weekends May Help Stress More than Vacations

This three-day weekend you should take the opportunity to relax, unplug and stop thinking about your problems. It can be even more beneficial for your health than a longer vacation.

Memorial Day isn’t an occasion where you wish people a “happy” holiday. It’s a time to think about the troops who have sacrificed their lives for the country. But, it also marks the unofficial start of summer. Many people take this weekend as a chance to have a mini-vacation. While you aren’t celebrating Memorial Day, you can enjoy gatherings with friends while still taking some time to think about what the day represents and the men and women who have given their lives in service to the nation.

The three-day weekend can be a good opportunity to take either a staycation or mini-vacation to unwind. Experts say that three-day breaks can help your mental health more than extended vacations. They take less planning, are less expensive and there is less pressure to enjoy them or make the most of your time off.

Clients often tell me they want to go as far away as possible for as long as possible,” said Jonathan Alpert, a psychotherapist and executive performance coach. “But then it takes a day to get to their destination, they run into issues accessing their email in a remote place, and inevitably, they get so stressed planning it, that they aren’t able to truly disconnect.”

Responsibilities and chores pile up, long vacations are expensive and if you work, you’re using up all of your vacation time. It’s unsurprising that longer trips can stress people out. A short trip or staycation is different. You can ignore a chore or email for a few days; the cost is manageable; there isn’t much planning involved. You’re more likely to disconnect from the internet and your phone if your vacation is shorter. And that can have significant health benefits. People who get off Facebook for five days have lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone.

It’s hard for people to disconnect for 10 days,” said Mr. Alpert. “Three days is easier to accomplish. It’s a more attainable goal. When you only take a couple days away, you’re setting yourself up for success.”

People report that they regularly have to do a lot of catch-up work when returning from vacation. That’s why 87 percent of Americans say that three-day weekends are better stress-relievers than longer vacations. So, this holiday weekend, while you should reflect on the meaning of Memorial Day, you should also take your three-day break to relax and unplug. The real world will be there Tuesday!  

Banner image: Erol Ahmed via Unsplash

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