Vacations – Unplugged And Then Some

Vacations - Unplugged and Then Some


A guest post written by Bob Cummings, media and legislative spokesperson for Christian Science in Michigan.

Friday [June 20] marked the official start of summer, and for many, summer is vacation time.

Research has found that vacations are beneficial for health and well-being, at least in the short run.

For example, one study looked at fifty-three employees and measured physical complaints and the quality of sleep and mood both 10 days before and 3 days after vacations. These measures all improved. And then, again, five weeks after vacations, the employees still reported fewer physical complaints. The study concluded that vacations may improve well-being on a short-term basis.

Perhaps not surprisingly, though, it depends on the nature of the vacation. For example, other studies have found that:

Stress has adverse effects on health, which means that reducing stress is good for health. So one point of a vacation is to vacate our work and it’s responsibilities and any related stress.

But talk about a stressful vacation situation: I recently watched the movie “What about Bob?” again. A Psychiatrist – Dr. Leo Marvin played by Richard Dreyfuss – goes on a month-long summer vacation at a beautiful lakeside home with his family and Bob Wiley – one of his patients played by Bill Murray – shows up at his doorstep. Trying desperately to preserve his vacation, Dr. Marvin tells Bob to just take a vacation from his problems. Of course, Bob takes that vacation where Dr. Marvin is taking his vacation so that he can see him each day, and Bob even ends up staying at Dr. Marvin’s vacation home one night. Well, you get the point – the doctor’s vacation doesn’t turn out so stress free, to put it mildly.

Our work doesn’t usually pursue us quite that much. But still, it can be challenging today to leave work behind for a helpful vacation. According to the Pew Research Center, 34% of American adults (almost 80 million) own a tablet computer and 56% of American adults (over 130 million) own smartphones. It’s so easy and tempting to stay connected to work while away.

Paul Miller of The Verge recently finished an experiment where he stayed off of the internet for a whole year. At first he experienced less noise and anxiety and more peace. He described it like this:

  • “As my head uncluttered, my attention span expanded.”
  • “I found I was more aware of others in the moment.”

But later in the year offline, he found he could make different but equally poor or passive choices of things to do while offline – things that were no more useful or stress free simply because he was doing them offline.

study by the University of Michigan Health System published in Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing examined the health benefits of a nondenominational spiritual retreat. It measured depression, hope, spiritual well-being and perceived stress. The group with the best results – especially an increase in hope and decrease in depression – used a four-day intervention that included guided imagery, meditation, drumming, journal writing, and nature-based activity.

Spirituality & Health Magazine headquartered in Traverse City, Michigan has an online listing of over forty retreats. Their website says these retreats are opportunities to:

  • Walk in silence;
  • Jump in an ocean;
  • Snowshoe through a meadow;
  • Practice meditation;
  • Open your heart;
  • Quiet your mind.

A vacation is a little different than a retreat – less formal and more individual perhaps – but it can provide similar opportunities. And some people do of course take retreats on their vacation.

Earlier this month I vacationed in Traverse City and enjoyed spending more time with family, sitting in a chaise looking out over the bay, reading a novel, laying in the sun, and spending time praying. It allowed me to leave the demands and stress of work behind and “quiet my mind.”

Even centuries ago, when life certainly wasn’t full of online demands, getting away was helpful. The Bible relates how Jesus, who was sometimes pressed upon by crowds of people seeking his help, once went up into a mountain to get away and pray. And evidently he was inspired and rejuvenated because when he returned he was able to help many who were sick find comfort and health.

If that was the result of his version of a vacation, just think what benefit we might all derive from choosing quiet, unplugged time to commune with the divine.

If you’re taking a vacation this summer, let it be one that’s good for health. And, of course, have fun!

About the author

Guest We are pleased to present Notes from the Field authors, who are assistant committees and church members in the Southern California region; and Notes from The Mother Church authors, who are Committees from the United States and around the world, as well as the Federal Committee on Publication office.


  1. Evelyn Brookins says

    Thanks for this exploration of the importance of turning from our daily stresses to some means of gaining a calm spirit and fresh energies.
    I belong to a group who have agreed to stop at a set time each day to pray for the world. The benefit of turning from our own daily issues to a larger picture of the Power that governs all things can certainly lift our outlook and remind us that there is a divine influence always present.

    • Lani says

      Psalms 21:1-2 says “1 I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
      2 My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.” When vacation or a holiday seems far away, and I need a break, I often think of this Psalm and literally look up, or close my eyes. Lifting thought gives us the break to gain inspiration, and then return to the moment, refreshed, often with new insight.

  2. Don Ingwerson says

    Your comments and the thoughts you shared help bring life to the ideas expressed in the article. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Anne Hughes says

    Vacations don’t have to be long or far away to be effective. Every time I jump into our pool in the back yard, I am refreshed, not so much because of the lovely swim, which I do appreciate, but as I swim lengths for a little while, I drop whatever might be trying to impress me that God isn’t governing. I look at the beautiful sky as I finish up, and I’m thankful for the GOOD that is around me, and that is a much better perspective for the rest of my day. Not swim weather? Reading that turns thought away from,”What am I gonna do?” will work as well, especially if it is inspirational.

  4. says

    Stress has adverse effects on health, which means that reducing stress is good for health. So one point of a vacation is to vacate our work and it’s responsibilities and any related stress.