Got a getaway planned for Memorial Day weekend? Are you pinning all your hopes on the rejuvenating effects of trip to the beach, or perhaps a whirlwind 72 hours in the mountains? Not to rain on your parade or anything, but enjoy the glow while you can because it's got the lifespan of a mayfly.
New York's new brainy blog, Science of Us, has decided to send us all off into Memorial Day weekend with this cheerful thought: The good vibes will dissipate quickly, likely within a week. Also, cut flowers turn brown and die and balloons deflate. [Sad trombone.]
Within a week of returning to work, the salubrious effects have faded entirely.
"Most vacations," [Dutch researcher Jessica de Bloom] and her colleagues bluntly write in a study from last year, "seem to have strong, but rather short-lived effects." (A subheading from another one of her papers, this one from 2010: "Lots of Fun, Quickly Gone.")
The grilled treats are already turning to ashes on my tongue.
One interesting detail: The studies discussed found that it was the most relaxing vacations, the ones where people did zilch, that offered the longest-lasting bliss. It's not too late to cancel that hotel room and spend the long weekend reading trash!
Not that this is an argument against vacations; there's the anticipation and the happy memories, and the article proceeds to outline the physical benefits. According to one team of researchers: "Asking why we should keep going on vacations is therefore comparable to asking why we should go to sleep considering the fact that we get tired again."
Maybe the best takeaway, then, is not to overburden your precious days off with too many expectations. Don't plan on coming back to work a new, more serene person. Devote your emotional energy to actually enjoying whatever you're doing, even if it's just eating ice cream and watching Real Housewives reruns. In conclusion:
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