How long you really need to be on holidays for to actually relax

Ever returned from a glorious weekend break, only to feel you never truly relaxed? Or, in some cases, after a whole week?

You’re probably not alone, as a new study has revealed how long it actually takes us to unwind on holiday.

The research, published in the Journal of Happiness Studiesfound that there is an optimum holiday length for it to have the greatest possible effect on our wellbeing.

If only you could relax at the click of your fingers. Photo: Getty

Unfortunately, that length is eight days or more – just one day longer than your typical week-long holiday.

To come to this conclusion, researchers from Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands gathered up 54 participants who were employed and had a mean age of 42.5.

Each participant went on a relatively lengthy holiday, ranging from 15 to 34 days long.

During and after their break, the researchers observed the holiday goers’ wellbeing and health based on a number of factors: fatigue, satisfaction, mood, health status, energy level and tension.

And they found that their health and wellbeing increased quickly while on holiday, peaking on the eighth day.

Eight is apparently the magic number when it comes to holidays. Photo: Getty

The effect was short lived, however; within one week of returning to work, the participants’ health and wellbeing was back to normal.

Which led the researchers to an interesting idea: Perhaps it’s actually better to take smaller, more frequent breaks.

The study’s authors wrote: “Frequent respites might be more important to preserve well-being than the duration of one single recovery episode.”

But if you can take more than seven days off?

They said: “Vacation experiences, especially pleasure, relaxation, savoring and control, seem to be especially important for the strength and persistence of vacation (after-) effects.”

Better contact HR about those eight days off ASAP, then.

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