We all know the things that we should do – a good nights sleep, a healthy diet and a reasonable amount of exercise – but you really should add travel to this list! Why? Because it offers a host of health benefits to your mind, body, and soul. Travel is not only exciting and interesting, it can be really good for you. Here are five reasons why:
It promotes brain health
When you travel your brain is introduced to new experiences and environments so it becomes challenged and builds resilience at the cellular level. Exposure to different cultures and situations can increase cognitive stimulation and has been shown to improve both memory and concentration and can contribute to the delayed onset of degenerative disease.
It enhances creativity
Visiting or travelling in a foreign country and immersing yourself in the local culture can increase your cognitive flexibility, which is perhaps why so many authors and painters have travelled in search of inspiration. Brain and neural pathways are influenced by environment and experience leading researchers to believe that the more you travel and the deeper you engage with a new culture, the more creativity is boosted.
It reduces stress and boosts mental health
Taking a break from the daily routine is essential for your mind to relax, recharge and rejuvenate which on turn leads to significant stress reduction. By promoting happiness and getting away from stressful situations, your cortisol levels are reduced making you feel calmer and more content. An Expedia survey in 2012 found that 89% of holiday-makers found they could let go of stress and relax after being away just a day or two. Learning the sensation that a lack of stress brings is a good reminder for when things get tough – it also is a good trigger to use resilience techniques when you sense that stress levels are rising…
It shifts perspective
Travel broadens your perspectives of the world and yourself and can make you more aware and open to new things. By watching how other people live, your viewpoint is broadened and you can challenge your own assumptions about alternative ways of living. When you are outside your comfort zone, you have the opportunity to transform how you see things and can it can help if you’re recovering from a major transition in your life an want to make a fresh start.
Going somewhere that excites and intimidates you at the same time can help you toughen up mentally and emotionally. By being out of your comfort zone in an unfamiliar environment you have to learn and adapt making you more flexible, patient, emotionally strong and able to accept situations more calmly. The more challenges you face, the better you get at dealing with them and become more resilient, both mentally and emotionally.
It puts things into perspective
When you are delayed or when adversity strikes you can use resilience techniques to help you cope and recognise where you have control and can deploy effort or where you have none and need to ‘surrender yourself’ to the external forces. There’s nothing like a travel delay to see the difference in ways that people react to challenges and are able to regulate their cognitive and behavioural responses – use it as an opportunity to become more stoic…!
It’s no great news that travel is good for your physical wellbeing, but a significant amount of research now suggests that exploring a new place can do wonders for your mental and emotional health as well……So let’s get packing!