Victorian London - Entertainment and Recreation - Holidays - need for

    It is one of the fashions of the times to assert that holidays are more necessary now than they were not so many years ago. The reason usually alleged is that, owing to the high pressure and hurry of the present day the human brain requires longer and more frequent rests than formerly, and that compe­tition is so great that a larger number of ‘days off’ are absolutely necessary to repair the waste of grey matter used up in the inevitable struggle. We are inclined to think, however, that the holiday craze is going too far. The best mode of giving the brain tissue its required rest is not to indulge in furious ‘biking’ nor yet to drowse away a week or a month in a sleepy hollow. The brain does not need, when healthy, even a week’s rest: a good night’s sleep is much more to the purpose. Still better is a hobby, and especially one which calls for some mental effort different from that required in the daily work. Any professional man who has no interests beyond his profession, or no chance of varying his daily duties has our sincerest pity. We are not at all sure that holidays of more than ten days or a fortnight at a time are good for anyone who is in good health and has work to do. For those who never do any real work all time is practically a holiday and it is immaterial when it is spent.
    The return after a long holiday is usually signalised by restlessness, inability to concentrate the mind to the details of work, and, though this may appear paradoxical, by a proneness to attacks of disease. It would be quite worth­while for someone to investigate the statistics bearing on this point. Short holidays two or three times a year are probably of more use than one long one, while if the weekends are often out of town, less than that is enough. The constant wish to get away from work, which is so characteristic of the present day, indicates little love for it, and that betokens degeneracy ..

The Medical Press, 1896