Meditation vs. vacation: Which is more beneficial for your health?
Have you ever been told you still have that vacation ‘glow’ when you return to work after a relaxing trip? You might hear something similar after leaving a meditation class, as you are radiating relaxation. But are there actual physical benefits related to both? And which is more powerful in terms of your health? New research sought to answer just that.
The study involved 94 healthy women aged 30 to 60. Approximately a third of the women recruited were novice meditators. The other 30 were part of a group of experienced meditators already scheduled to stay at the resort. All participants enjoyed six days at the vacation spot in California. Of the novice meditators, half joined a meditation training program, and the other half simply enjoyed a week vacation. The 30 experienced meditators also participated in the mediation program, which included self-reflection, yoga and mantra meditation. All resort-goers had their blood and gene activity measured immediately after the resort vacation and up to 10 months later.
Not surprisingly, the results revealed that going on a resort vacation helped improve stress regulation, immune function and other cellular markers in the bloodstream for all groups, whether participants meditated or just enjoyed the vacation stay. Interestingly though, the results also showed that while all groups showed significant improvements, novice meditators experienced a much longer “vacation effect”, reporting fewer signs of depression and less stress compared to non-meditators.
It, of course, may be hard for some individuals to get away for a relaxing vacation for various reasons. Dr. Chandragupta Vedak, a psychiatrist at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, Ill, says that there are other ways, in addition to a getaway, to manipulate gene activity to improve overall health. “Certain life circumstances cause genes to be silenced or expressed over time,” he says.
Dr. Vedak offers these tips to improve your well-being through gene activity:
- Eat healthy. Make sure you’re getting the right amount of nutrients through your daily diet. What you put into your body can directly affect the way you feel.
- Take breaks and sleep. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep at night. Too many people don’t get sufficient sleep, and it ends up affecting their health. Also, make sure you’re not overdoing it at work. Oftentimes, we get burnt out and don’t take the breaks that our body is telling us we need. Taking short breaks or meditating can help to regulate stress.
- Exercise. As most people know, exercising releases endorphins and helps to reduce stress, which affects gene activity.
While meditation and taking a vacation are two ways to improve overall well-being, it’s important to not ignore other factors in your life that may affect your health.
About the Author
Liz Donofrio, health enews contributor, is a marketing specialist at Advocate Health Care. As a newlywed, she is happy to be done planning her wedding and enjoying spending time with her husband and new extended family. In her free time, you can find Liz cooking new tasty recipes for her family, attending Chicago sporting events and chasing after her shih tzu-yorkie, Buttons.