The Effect of Vacations, Retirement on Your Health
Long hours and high stress on the job pump out stress hormones, raise blood pressure, and increase the risk for atherosclerosis and other heart problems. To counteract these factors, men need to work balance and relaxation into their lives. The February issue of Harvard Men’s Health Watch discusses whether vacations really have health value, and how men can make the most of retirement.
In one study, men who took the most vacations were 29% less likely to be diagnosed with heart disease and 17% less likely to die over the nine-year study period than those who did not take regular vacations. However, vacations are not equally good for all men. Psychologists in the Netherlands have identified a group of men with “leisure sickness,” a set of psychosomatic symptoms that are triggered by time away from work. Still, this condition is rare; for nearly every man, vacations are healthy, says the Harvard Men’s Health Watch.
Unlike a vacation, retirement is a permanent change in status, with important effects on a man’s self-image. If retirement is preceded by realistic anticipation and planning, it can be a happy and healthy change. A successful retirement requires planning for the loss of income, work relationships, and identity as a worker. A man should cultivate interests to make the leisure of retirement as rewarding as the challenges of work. People who develop interests and relationships before retirement should be able to anticipate this change with eagerness.
The Harvard Men’s Health Watch suggests that ideally, men should strive for a career with room for both work and play, a lifestyle that is based on good health habits, and an environment that supports strong interpersonal relationships and interesting activity.
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