Holidays: a biological impulse


Hollidays on Mallaorca Island by Lanci Danieli

Holidays or Holy Days. Either way, John Hillman reminds us that we are primed to enjoy them

Many of us wish that life was one long holiday and that’s because for the vast majority of our ancestors it probably was.
Contrary to popular belief life before civilization was probably a lot simpler than many people in the modern world imagine. All we did was get up, think about having a bite to eat, play a few games, have sex, and go back to sleep; sound familiar? A bit like those two weeks you spend all year dreaming about perhaps?

The fact is that being on holiday is how human beings were designed to behave naturally. Contrary to what your boss tells you our brains are not designed to multi-task and whether you sit down or stand up to pee makes no difference. We are happiest when thinking about things simply: food, sleep, sex and socialising. Everything else has been one big terrible mistake and will lead to our downfall; don’t believe me? Ask the Polar Bears if you can find one.

The reason why so many of us are refusing to reign in on our holiday this year, despite the recession, is because it is the single most important remedy that most of us have to the stresses and strains of modern life. Without our two weeks in Corfu, or 10 days dog walking in Devon, it would be impossible to consider life in its present format.

Being on holiday is fundamentally important, and the simple fact is that if the modern world can’t fulfil this most basic function then in all likelihood most of us wouldn’t bother getting out of bed.

We all know that being on holiday removes the pressures of everyday life, but there is so much more to it than that. When on holiday we exercise without even thinking about it. No finding your sweaty kit bag and heading off for a bout of serial depression on a treadmill, just walking along a sandy beach or messing about in boats and you’re using your body for what it was originally intended.

The therapeutic double whammy of natural physical activity and simple uncluttered thinking has such a great affect on our overall wellbeing that we come back from our holidays with a boosted immune system, improved digestion and increased energy. We also sleep much better on holiday.

Of course this depends on you having the wit to avoid sitting by a concrete swimming pool in some god-awful Mediterranean ‘complex’, burning to a crisp and poisoning yourself with fried food and larger, but it’s looking increasingly like those days are a thing of the past for most of us anyway.

Getting away really matters. There’s no need to make an excuse, or justify it to yourself, it just does. Whether you cruise around the Caribbean or load up your car with the kids and head off camping in France, or even if you just head back to your parents house, what matters is that you are reclaiming your life for a while and going back to life as it should be, crisis or no crisis.

Image Credit: Lanci Daniele

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