If your idea of the perfect summer vacation revolves around the lakeside, you’re not alone. The lake is a bastion of peace and tranquility in an otherwise hectic, over-scheduled and over-stressed world. Ideally, many of us would love to live by the lake all year round, but of course, the weighty practicalities of day-to-day living make this improbable, if not all out impossible for most. Still, this doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a healthy hit of perspective a few times a year by taking a lakeside vacation.
It is a well-known fact that stress is one of the major contributing factors to chronic illnesses and diseases ranging from poor concentration and sleeplessness to obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. The weighty implications of our overwrought lives are precisely why it’s not just ‘nice’ to take a break, but absolutely crucial for our health.
Assistant professor of psychology at Oswego, Brooks Gump, Ph.D., agrees, saying, “We concluded that skipping vacations could actually be dangerous to your health. Vacations have a protective effect because they help you reduce your load of stress, or at least allow you to take a break from the everyday stressors of the workplace.”
Gump is not alone in his opinion. Medical professionals and researchers have almost unanimously agreed that vacations play a vital role in promoting and maintaining good physical and mental health.
It seems the argument in favour of vacationing in nature is even more persuasive. There are many benefits to chilling out in the great outdoors, and while we may be biased, there is enough evidence to speak for itself.
Benefits of Lake Vacations
Vitamin D – the long lauded ‘sunshine vitamin’ – can only be produced through exposure to sunshine and ingestion of a relatively limited number of foods. Unfortunately, when you combine an influx of sedentary office jobs with stress and poor diet choices, you’ve got a recipe for disaster. Insufficient vitamin D has been linked to cancer, bone and autoimmune disease, nervous disorders, cardiovascular conditions and depression. Medical experts widely agree that as little as 15 minutes of exposure to the sunshine has the ability to decrease your stress levels while simultaneously boosting your mood and your overall health.
A lakeside vacation is both the literal and metaphorical breath of fresh air you’ve been longing for. You can actually clear out your body and mind by increasing the amount of fresh air provided to your cells. It’s as easy as inhale, exhale. In fact, a 2008 study published in the Journal of Biological Regulators & Homeostatic Agents found that people who spent more time in the fresh air of the forest displayed more physical signs of relaxation, like lower blood pressure and more balanced cortisol levels (cortisol is the hormone that controls stress), than when they spent time in urban areas.
Get your creative juices flowing by stepping out of your routine and embracing your carefree self. It may take only a few hours, or it may take a few days, but eventually you’ll be able to unwind enough to let loose and let your mind wander freely.
Lack of sleep causes stress and stress causes lack of sleep. However, a few hours basking in the sun by the lake and/or running wild and free in the great outdoors can guarantee some seriously sweet shut eye. In fact, just getting enough exposure to sunlight and fresh air has been proven to balance the hormones that regulate sleep and wakefulness – something that can suffer when we stay indoors for large parts of the day and surround ourselves with artificial light at all hours. If you let nature be your guide, you will sleep and wake with the ease and peace of a lapping shoreline.
A vacation by the lake affords you a myriad of stress busting opportunities that will help you unwind and replenish your system. It only takes a few minutes to make the time, and it can give you days of relaxation as well as a lifetime of perspective. Don’t make excuses. Make sure to book your lakeside vacations every year!