by Patrick Glass

It’s summertime! Which, for many people, means it’s time to take an extended break from the hubbub of everyday life.

Dating back to the early days of urbanization and labor protections for workers, summer vacation has become an informal American tradition that passes unceasingly from one generation to the next. In 2016, travel and tourism contributed more than $500 billion to American GDP and recorded stronger growth than the financial services, retail, or manufacturing sectors of the economy.

While the detrimental effects of summer vacation on American students are certainly a subject of debate for many educators, what is exceedingly clear is that vacation time greatly benefits mental health and wellbeing.

Taking a few days – or even a few weeks! – in the summer to recuperate is associated with improved mood and sleep, fewer prescriptions for antidepressants, and higher overall rates of life satisfaction. On the flip side, shunning relaxation correlates with a higher likelihood of heart problems, decreased productivity, and increased odds of enduring a depressive episode.

Amazingly, the benefits of holidays don’t only pertain to the vacationers themselves. A 2013 Swedish study discovered that “people who take vacations may boost the mental health of those around them.”

Please do yourself (and us!) a favor and take some time to relax before the summer slips away!

Here are some of the vacations that PEERS staff have gone on this summer:

Ashlee Jemmott, Program Coordinator:

“I saw my sisters in Burlingame, and we went for a walk in a labyrinth. This taught me that you don’t have to be physically still to quiet your mind. I think it’s really important to take time to sit with yourself and just be. Inner reflection gives you your path.”

Gilbert Pizano, Program Coordinator:

“We went to Gualala, California, which is up north on the coast near Sea Ranch. Besides hanging out on the beach, we got to go kayaking near Goat Rock. It was definitely a breath of fresh air. The whole thing was tight.”

Lynn Rivas, Associate Director:

“We walked the dog on Mount Diablo. It’s like you’re in Yosemite: so close but it feels like you’re far away. There’s an unobstructed view in every direction – it’s absolutely spectacular. Getting away feels great.”

Lyndsey Ellis, Program Coordinator:

“I went to Squaw Valley near Tahoe for a writers’ retreat. It was really decluttering and refreshing to connect with nature. Greenery is good for the soul.”

Patrick Glass, Communications Coordinator:

“I backpacked and hiked in Utah and Wyoming with friends. Besides a chance encounter with a grizzly bear, the whole thing was pretty relaxing. It’s incredibly beautiful out there.”