May 27, 2022 12:17 pm

Vacation revenge for the brain

Rematch! This is the time to take a vacation again. In 2020, under the shock of the pandemic, still new, 54 percent of Argentines do not take vacations. According to a Zonaprop survey, now the figure has reversed: 74 percent of us plan to go somewhere to rest.

We earned it.

The WHO has just published the first global study on the effects of overwork. People who regularly work 55 hours a week or more are 35 percent more likely to die from heart disease. Between 2000 and 2016, cardiac deaths from overwork grew by 42 percent, and the number of people working more than recommended is growing. The National Bureau of Economic Research of the United States published that – post-pandemic – we are working, on average, 48 minutes more per day. How long does an entire class last? yoga. According to Goldman Sachs, workers in the United States increased their productivity by 3 percent. Telecommuting erases the boundaries between the office and home. Although today we would all prefer to erase the border between the house and a beach.

The WHO has just published the first global study on the effects of overworking. People who regularly work 55 hours a week or more are 35 percent more likely to die from heart disease.

There are hundreds of studies on the positive consequences of vacations for the brain. We know, for example, that the anti-stress effect wears off a few days after returning, that we remember the end of the trip much more than everything that happens in between. And that, in an unsurprising but hilarious result, one of the reasons we love to vacation is that having a boss around is a constant source of emotional pain, according to a study by Daniel Kahneman.

At the same time, it is known that not all rest is useful. Like cholesterol, there is good and bad. Shawn Achor and Michelle Gielan are two disseminators who have been researching and disseminating advice so that vacations are really beneficial. They published in the Harvard Business Review a list of four things that should not be missing in the suitcase of the happy traveler:

1) Plan the vacations with time because we really enjoy the preparations.

2) Go far away, change the scene: Twitter studied the mood of its users’ posts and discovered comments that were happier the farther they were from their homes.

3) Delegate or minimize the most stressful part of the organization, the logistics, the details.

The problem is that all these recommendations –based on surveys or experiments– are doing poorly with the pandemic. Planning ahead is a pipe dream. Ask the stranded or those who went to the United States with two doses of Sputnik. Going away increases the chances of having to cancel everything, because more borders mean more regulations. And the logistical details multiplied. Instructions circulate on WhatsApp to learn how to complete the migration affidavit or to get the result of the PCR on time. The worst, however, comes with the fourth and last recommendation, which can make us laugh… or cry:

4) Make friends in the chosen destination, get advice from the locals, socialize, because that helps us reduce the stress produced by the unknown environment.

Now that may be impossible right now. when it’s hard to socialize even with the friends we already have, and close contact is like a poisonous stain.

Of course before the pandemic nor was it certain that every vacation was a good rest. A series of investigations from the 1990s, from Washington and Northwestern universities, described the “rosy effect” that we apply to vacations. In the previous one we are happy and optimistic. When we return we remember the most outstanding moments: if they were good to reaffirm what we anticipated, and if there were any bad ones to build anecdotes. On the other hand, we easily forget what happens in between, the little annoyances that beset us: mosquitoes, sunstroke, tiredness, lost luggage. In one much-cited experiment, researcher Ed Diener asked participants to rate their experiences on each day of their vacation, then give points to the vacation as a whole. The highest score was always that of the general memory and furthest from the facts.

All in all, better try to leave. And here is a real finding: a German investigation that took information from 26,000 people in Europe concluded that the happiest are those that are in contact with a greater diversity of bird species. Getting closer to nature seems to make sense; A little bird told me.

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