How Travelling Benefits Your Brain
Many of us travel because we love to see new places, for work reasons, or to seek out adventures, but did you know that travelling can actually benefit your mental health?
A surprising amount of studies have looked into the effects that travelling to remote and rural parts of the world can have on your brain. Its long been thought that getting back to nature or simply being outdoors can have positive effects on your psychological health; relieving stress levels, boosting creativity and even making us feel happier. Sure, you can get that boost by taking a walk in your nearest woods or by embarking on a day trip to a destination close to home, but by booking a week's holiday somewhere away from the distractions of everyday life, you are giving your brain a prolonged amount of time in which to rest.
Forget for a moment about hectic business trips and busy city breaks, and consider more relaxing scenarios: lounging by a pool, strolling along a secluded beach, enjoying the local cuisine in a rural village, floating in an azure sea. When you return home after these kinds of holidays, don't you always feel rested, rejuvenated and completely stress-free?
Far away from the stresses of jobs, mortgages and everyday life, you are confronted with new experiences in all of your senses. New sights, new sounds, new tastes, new languages, new textures. Everything that you experience whilst travelling helps to widen your mind, especially when you have to learn to adapt to new situations, such as overcoming language barriers and finding your way around new locations. By becoming more globally and culturally aware, you are likely to experience spikes in creativity, boosted by all of your new experiences.
Holidays rarely run completely smoothly, and any small inconveniences can actually assist in boosting your psychological health. Every time you encounter a problem, your brain has to work around it, becoming better at problem solving with each obstacle. We tend to be more patient when we are abroad, especially if we don't speak the local language and it can take us longer than usual to figure out where we are going. This teaches us to be more flexible in our daily lives.
Of course, travelling to new and enriching places isn't a cure for mental illnesses. Some illnesses triggered by stress, lack of sleep, unfamiliarity or by becoming overwhelmed could actually be triggered by jetting off around the world to arrive in a completely foreign destination. If you're unsure as to how a trip will affect you or a loved one, you should always consult a medical professional prior to your trip.
But travelling can (and often does) boost endorphins and make you feel happier. We're so used to the daily grind that stepping away from the office and onto a tranquil beach is considered a break, a rest, a respite. It's perfectly acceptable to do nothing and think of nothing for days on end, something which seems impossible at home. Perhaps one reason that your nails always seem to grow on holiday is because you're no longer biting them in anxiety.
Emma Lavelle is a UK based writer and photographer and has her own blog Field and Nest.
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