Vacation’s lingering benefits, but only for those with low stress jobs

Brooks B. Gump, Bryce Hruska, Sarah D. Pressman, Aesoon Park, Kestutis G. Bendinskas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background: Vacationing provides potential recovery from work stress and is associated with cardiovascular disease morbidity and mortality. This study considered psychological variables that might change as a vacation is approaching (fade-in) or after a vacation ends (fade-out) and how these associations might vary as a function of ongoing work stress. Methods: Sixty workers eligible for paid time off were recruited from the community. Multiple assessments occurred during an 8- to 10-week period spanning the period before and after a vacation. A piecewise random coefficient model compared changes over time (slopes) for pre- and post-vacation periods. Outcomes included affect, aggression, social support, and work stress. Results: Hostile affect, negative affect, stress, and physical aggression all declined significantly during the post-vacation period (relative to no change during the pre-vacation period). In addition, these changes in pre- versus post-vacation periods differed as a function of work stress, with some vacation benefits observed specifically among workers with low work stress. Conclusions: Findings indicate that vacations produced psychological benefits that persist beyond the vacation period. Vacation-associated benefits may serve as mechanisms underlying associations between vacations and slow developing disease. However, work stress appears to spillover and can thereby undermine a vacation’s fade-in and fade-out benefits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)895-912
Number of pages18
JournalPsychology and Health
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2021


  • Vacations
  • health
  • leisure activities
  • respite
  • work stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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