Dr. Munro Cullum, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, says even taking a short break can be rejuvenating, but significant de-stressing may take several days "just to get ourselves used to the idea of relaxing."
"Getting away for a vacation allows us time to simply play and leave the 'baggage' behind," Cullum says in a statement. "More and more we are flooded with information in ever-increasing quantities, with more 'to-do' lists, more to keep in mind and more things to remember -- such as passwords, computer procedures, day planners, appointments, cell phones, e-mail -- not to mention the everyday demands of life in today's busy society. These things add up to stress."
This informational demand may be compounded by economic stress or personal worries, Cullum says.
"We hear so much negative news these days that we can get caught up in negative thought patterns, which may contribute to our own anxieties and concerns about the future," Cullum says. "If stress becomes too much it also can result in negative physiological reactions that can lead to illness, but exercise, a healthful diet and adequate sleep are important, but we also need some down time, to allow our brains to work 'offline.'"