Here’s What Happens to Your Brain While You’re On Vacation

In a culture that is absolutely obsessed with productivity and achievement, there’s far too much talk about work and little about vacation. But taking the time to disconnect from the stresses of everyday life is critical – especially for our brains.

Our brains need rest

Our brains burn a lot of energy during the day. In fact, the brain consumes approximately 20 percent of the energy produced by our body – a figure that increases by an additional 5 to 10 percent when we’re actively using our minds to, say, write an important email or make calculations.

The rest of the time, our brains take advantage of lulls in tasking to process what scientists call “negative tasks” – reflecting on past experiences, sorting through unimportant information and daydreaming about possible scenarios. All this “mindless” reflection helps free up brain space to focus later, when it’s time to really buckle down, and allows the executive-style brain to take a break.

This is the purpose of rest. Taking the time to intentionally separate ourselves from our daily work to take a vacation – explore new things, expand our comfort zones – is the best thing we can do to keep our minds happy and healthy and, ultimately, more productive. Here are just a few ways going on vacation influences our brains and overall health.

Rest is the root of creativity

As I’m sure you can imagine, while we work we are functioning in “focused mode,” processing huge amounts of detailed information on a daily basis. It’s no wonder we’re over-saturated! Taking a holiday allows the brain to disconnect from that task-oriented behavior and wander, seemingly aimlessly, to connect seemingly unrelated ideas and give us insight into our lives.

Rest helps us make better decisions

The brain works best when it’s not under a lot of pressure. This is why, before a test or a large presentation, it’s an excellent idea to nap or take a walk in nature. Afterwards, cognitive processes are improved – particularly attention and memory. We need psychological distance from our work to make good choices and perform at our best.


Rest relieves stress

A relaxing holiday is the best antidote to stress – a physical response to pressure and overwhelm. When we’re in stressful environments, our bodies begin producing large amounts of the hormones cortisol and epinephrine, each designed to put us on edge and “ready to run,” so to speak.

This fight or flight reaction is great in the short term, but in the long run it’s dangerous and can lead to chronic disease. Taking a vacay from stress helps reduce this chronic anxiety, distance ourselves from high-pressure situations and give our bodies a chance to regenerate and repair the damage. We all need this.

Rest makes us happier

It should be no surprise that chronic stress leads to increase levels of anxiety and depression. People who don’t take vacations regularly report three times more depression and anxiety than those who disconnect often.

Luckily, two weeks away is all you need to relax and find happiness again. During a great vacation, your body produces enough endorphins to counteract the harmful effects of the stress hormones described above.

Related Stories:


Marie W
Marie W7 days ago

Thanks for sharing

John J
John J1 months ago

thanks for sharing

John J
John J1 months ago

thanks for sharing

Sophie A
Sarah A5 months ago


Lesa D
Past Member 7 months ago

thank you Lauren...

Angela K
Angela K7 months ago

Thank you for sharing

Ruth S
Ruth S7 months ago


HEIKKI R7 months ago

thank you

Renata B
Renata B7 months ago

I think that having some relaxing time at home without having to work, enjoying my cats and the my garden, going out for some walk with my husband and our dog is the best. Happy to be in my home.

Mona M
Mona M7 months ago

Excellent. Thank you.