Fuel for the soul: why holidays boost your creativity

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Anna Brech
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It’s alarming to think that there are still some people out there who don’t take full advantage of their annual leave.

In fact, a 2015 study found that around half of UK employees aren’t using the holiday quota that’s there for the very purpose of taking time out.

When you’ve got a demanding job, it’s easy to let obligations snowball – and before you know it, you haven’t had a proper break in the past two years.

But in a new article for, New York-based behavioural scientist Jon Levy argues that going on holiday is crucial to our productivity at work.

“Vacations provide rest and a ton of other benefits that have a greater influence on your success and happiness than clocking in overtime at the office,” he writes.

So, how do holidays work to re-charge us?

Well, as you’d expect, Levy highlights the positive impact of more sleep on cognitive processes such as decision-making. He also points to studies that show a close relationship between being in nature – away from the hubbub and demands of city life – and our ability to focus.

His most interesting takeaway, however, is the fact that the novel experience of a holiday will help to spark creativity.

“Familiarity and routine can stifle our desire to explore and understand,” Levy writes.

“Researchers Nico Bunzeck and Emrah Düzel examined the brain's SN/VTA, also known as the ‘major novelty center.’ They found that the more an individual is exposed to the familiar, the less the SN/VTA responds. However, when exposed to things that are new and novel, it has a heightened reaction that pushes us to explore and understand.”

“Creativity can be seen as the ability to make connections between disparate ideas, but unless you have explored a wealth of experiences, you will not have anything to draw from,” he adds.

“Going on vacation provides a wealth of novelty to spur creativity.” 

You heard it here first, folks. Get booking that Cuban escape, pronto.

Photos: iStock


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Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.