Entrepreneurship is not a feat for the faint at heart. In the eyes of Elon Musk, "running a start-up is like chewing glass and staring into the abyss. After a while, you stop staring, but the glass chewing never ends." Without a doubt, the entrepreneurial pursuit can wreak havoc on one's mental well-being.

A recent study published in May in the journal Small Business Economics found that 72 percent of entrepreneurs suffer from mental health issues. They are more likely to experience depression, ADHD, addiction, and bipolar disorder as compared to the general population. 

Drowning in tight deadlines and all-nighters, vacationing is often the last thing on an entrepreneur's unending to-do list. But truly disconnecting from work, even if it means temporarily delaying growth and success, is vital to an entrepreneur's ultimate success. As it turns out, the rustic charm of a barn is just what entrepreneurs need to curb their mental woes and rejuvenate. 

Don't have a cow just yet. Science sheds light on why barn vacations may indeed be entrepreneurs' sojourn of choice, one that ultimately ensures they bring home more than just the bacon. 

Horses, cattle, goats, ducks, pigs, and more 

Entrepreneurs must make all efforts to improve their moods and prevent depression. Barns are beset with a multitude of different livestock and other animal forms. There's a lot of benefit to being surrounded by animals. Pet therapy has been proven to improve cardiovascular health, increase confidence levels, and improve overall well-being. Daniel the duck, an emotional support animal, became a celebrity in 2016 when an air traveler discovered one of his co-passengers traveled with him for emotional comfort. 

According to a 2003 study published in the journal Anxiety, Stress, & Coping, the simple act of stroking a living creature (whether furry or hard-shelled) reduced anxiety levels. By way of comparison, stroking a toy version of an animal had no effect. Additionally, the emotional effects were apparent even among individuals who purported to dislike animals. According to UCLA Health, the act of petting animals promotes the release of serotonin, prolactin, and oxytocin, all hormones that can elevate moods and help prevent depression. 

Trees, plants, and other green things

Entrepreneurs are often cooped up in crowded co-working spaces with a lack of fresh air. There's a real advantage to entrepreneurs being exposed to nature. Barns are typically surrounded by large open spaces teeming with flora. Several studies have shown that exposure to lush plant life improves our physical and cognitive abilities. 

A study conducted by Stanford researchers in 2015 involved participants partaking in a 90-minute walk, either through a natural or an urban environment. Those participants who were exposed to the natural environment reported lower levels of rumination (repetitive thinking that is focused on the symptoms triggering distress), a common symptom of depression and anxiety. They also showed decreased neural activity in an area of the brain associated with a greater risk of mental illness as compared with those who were exposed to the urban environment. 

Tranquility and the state of peace and quiet 

Time spent away from the chatter of customers, employees, and investors can do entrepreneurs a lot of good. Away from the hustle and bustle of city life, barns tend to be secluded, with minimum background noise. A 2006 study published in the journal Heart found that two minutes of silence is more relaxing than two minutes of listening to relaxing music.

Exposure to silent environments results in lower blood pressure and increased blood circulation levels in the brain. In contrast, noisy environments trigger elevated stress levels. When sound waves reach the brain, the brain's amygdala (which is associated with the formation of memories) is activated, in turn, causing the release of stress hormones.

Bountiful supplies of pollution-free air

The city pollution that proffers oxygen to most entrepreneurs can take a toll on one's health. Barns tend to be enveloped by fresh country air. Pollution is virtually absent. From reduced risk of respiratory and cardiovascular problems to increased immune functionality, the list of health benefits associated with clean air exposure is stately. But of all the health benefits of clean air, the most intriguing is the boost in happiness. A 2013 study published in the International Journal of Green Economics found that there is a strong relationship between clean air and increased levels of happiness. In fact, happiness levels were a robust predictor of air quality. 

Entrepreneurs and others are quickly gravitating towards barn vacations. According to HomeAway and VRBO, barn bookings increased by 55 percent from 2016 to 2017. Science sheds tremendous light on why barns topped the list for the most popular non-traditional vacation in 2017. As an entrepreneur, vacations are few and far between. Make the most of your vacation time by opting for a barnyard vacation. Make hay while the sun shines. 

Published on: Aug 3, 2018