Holidays don’t make us happier, study says

You believed that taking a holiday will make you happier? Well, sorry to bring you bad news, but it seems that you’re wrong! According to a study made on 1,530 Dutch adults (974 of whom took a vacation during the study period) by Jeroen Nawijn from Erasmus University in Rotterdam and NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences and his team there is no major impact on happiness through taking a vacation.

It seems that the feeling of happiness lasts only up to two weeks after coming back from the holiday, at best.

Let’s see the conclusions of the study: those planning a vacation were happier than those not going away. I’d say that’s obvious: the expectation. In terms of happiness however there were only small differences between “vacationers” and “non-vacationers”. If those who took a break had a really great relaxing time then yes, they were a little bit happier, but it didn’t last so much. You can see the results of the study on ScienceDaily.

Do you agree? Do holidays make you happy or not? if yes, for how long after you return from it?

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I’m offering public relations, communications and image counseling in everyday life and I have a PR agency – PRwave INTERNATIONAL. I am passionate about reading, blogging (I also have a blog in Romanian) and traveling. Follow me on Twitter - @violetaloredana (Romanian) and @TravelMoments.

11 thoughts on “Holidays don’t make us happier, study says

  • 20 September, 2010 at 11:03

    The way I see it, you plan a vacation to rest, change the scenary and say good-bye to stress for a while, meet new people, experience new places and learn something. If you’re like me, you’re also vacationing to add hundreds and hundreds of new photos to your collection 🙂

    While I understand there’s excitment while planning, that you enjoy the vacation and are slightly happier afterwards, I don’t see how a break could make you significantly happier. If you’re generally happy, the change will be insignificant. if you’re generally unhappy, the same 🙂

    • 22 September, 2010 at 11:59

      In a way you are right – meaning that the way a person really is in real life influence the way he/she will feel after a holiday.

      I think however that a holiday can make someone happy – and I see many cases of such persons. Even a week/year can do wonders. It can really be that special time when you are re-charging batteries. I also believe that there is a curve: you are happy planing and excited to go on vacation; you come back and maybe for a few days you are feeling better. Then there is that melancholic feeling: the holiday is over and you are back to work. Afterward you start remembering the special moments you had, sharing them with friends and so on. And then work is all you have in mind and daily activities and after a (longer) while you get excited planing next trip.

      I also think that we should take in consideration different cultures – for instances in some countries 5 days, weekend included, means a looong vacation, while in others that is just a longer weekend :).

  • 23 September, 2010 at 09:13

    Very interesting post. I’ve never heard any research about holidays in particular but I have read it about new experiences bringing more happiness than buying things.

    In my case, holidays usually do make me happy. I love the planning, the trip, and the memories- sometimes even years afterwards. But then, I love travel.

    I think for some people, going on a holiday is not that fun. Maybe it’s stressful to leave the usual routine and air travel these days… well, it can be pretty awful. Maybe some people who don’t like being out of their ordinary environments find holidays more work than staying at home?

    • 23 September, 2010 at 15:20

      Mary, it’s nice to meet you 🙂 I have to admit that holidays do make me happy – even if holiday may sometimes mean a one-day trip or a weekend getaway. But you are right – when traveling becomes necessary – like a job order… it’s not fun. But holidays I think should be fun. One should choose places he/she loves, means of traveling appropriate (car, airplane etc.) – and if in a couple there are different tastes, they should be present: for instance go several days somewhere at a sea and then to the mountains (or in different years or getaways).

      All in all I must say holidays are great ;).

  • 23 September, 2010 at 20:35

    Maybe it’s because people are unhappy with what they are doing day to day. They can get a slight boost by going on vacation for 2-weeks but it doesn’t change they they still have to be unhappy for the other 50-weeks they must work to get another 2-weeks of vacation. Who wants to live that way? I’d rather find something that makes me happy all of the time and have a hell of a good time!

    • 23 September, 2010 at 22:38

      Jenny you make a very good point: the key is indeed to enjoy what you do. I like what I’m doing as a daily activity – my public relation and communication agency, strategies and consultancy for my clients etc. And I guess they all feel that: I’m putting all my soul in every project and that’s obvious in the results. I am happy however when going in a holiday – it’s a different type of happiness I guess, for there are different reasons. I enjoy each project that comes to an end in perfect conditions and I enjoy each break – a one-day trip, a weekend getaway or a longer vacation. It’s different though 🙂

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