How long after your last vacation do you start planning your next vacation? It is the one week (or long weekend) that we all look forward to. A vacation can involve planes, trains, boats or automobiles. Of course, some of the best vacations can be just unplugging at home and rediscovering your own city. It should come as no surprise that vacations offer a big boost for our mental health. Yes, researchers actually studied vacations. Do you think that was an excuse for them just to go on vacation? Here are five reasons why vacations matter:

They Reduce Stress

Do you know how good you feel after waking up from a nap? You’ve got a boost of energy and you feel ready to take on the next challenge. That’s what a vacation provides but times seven days. Traveling allows you to take your mind off the stresses of your 9 to 5 gig. Studies have shown that over 80% of respondents experienced a significant drop in stress just after two days of traveling. That includes airport travel! You can be busy on a vacation and still feel stress free.

They Let You Process

The main objective of a vacation is to have a lot of time doing nothing. That “nothing” can come in the form of sitting on a beach or driving for hours along a scenic road. This allows our brains to process all the things that have been “stacked up” in our minds. There is also the opportunity to experience different cultures through food, sights and the people. Any time we can get a fresh point of view it allows us to shift our perspectives and that’s a good thing.

They Boost Self-Confidence

Travel should make you happy. You’re relaxing and experiencing new things. That gets your brain neurons firing in positive directions. As a result, your mood shifts and that in turn makes you feel more self-confident. Essentially, you are being fulfilled because you earned this vacation. That’s something we should all experience on a regular basis.

They Make You More Independent

Even though the ultimate goal of any vacation is to relax, you’re still going to be busy making decisions and, hopefully, stepping outside your comfort zone. You get to try new things that you might not try at home. You might be navigating through a foreign language and unfamiliar places. All of that is going to give you a stronger sense of independence that you can carry back to your daily routine. In other words, after a vacation you be able to say with more confidence, “I got this.”

They Make You More Creative

Are you the type of person that gets their best ideas in the shower? That could be because the act of focusing on one thing can free up your brain to think of something else. Surprise! You get a great idea. Now, multiply that effect while on vacation. Those same vacation studies have found that traveling can stimulate your creative juices. You might not be writing the next great novel but you could have a stronger approach to solving problems back at work.

When you get back from your vacation, you can start putting all the things you’ve learned and discovered about yourself into your “normal life.” Time for a vacation!