RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—You know the feeling all too well: You return from a fabulous vacation convinced that the afterglow will last for days, maybe even weeks (yes, it was that good). Then back to work you go, and one day into it you’re time-crunched, stressed out, and feel like you never left! So the question is, how to make the good feelings last? Surely there must be a way? New research out of the Netherlands may provide an answer.
THE DETAILS: Published earlier this month in the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life, the study tracked the happiness levels of 974 vacationers and 556 nonvacationers over a period of several weeks. The vacationers surveyed about their level of happiness pre-, during, and post-vacation.
Compared to the nonvacationers, the vacationers’ happiness levels were higher pre-vacation (they were likely anticipating the holiday) and during the vacation, but similar to those of the nonvacationers after the holiday. With one exception: A subgroup of vacationers who termed their getaway “very relaxing”—as opposed to the other subgroups, who called theirs “relaxed,” “neutral,” “stressful,” or “very stressful”—retained a significant happiness afterglow for two weeks beyond their vacation on average. What’s more, this group’s happiness level remained slightly elevated for a full eight weeks.
Another interesting finding was that the length of the vacation had no bearing on subsequent happiness levels. “As long as the trip provided sufficient opportunity to relax and reduce stress,” write the study authors, “there were no differences in post-trip happiness, regardless of how many days spent on holiday.”
Read on for suggestions on keeping that vacation feeling going after you get home.
Published on: February 24, 2010
Updated on: March 25, 2010