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After watching several types of motivational videos, reading numerous articles and a couple of good books, you still wonder why your mental health and life is not improving. While they do hold importance in terms of giving you more knowledge, inability to take action will deem them meaningless. You are making efforts to escape the everyday rut, but are frustrated by the monotony of routine. You want something that can change your life in terms of broadening your horizon, altering your perspectives and enhancing your creativity thought process; basically, a solution which has a positive impact on your brain’s neuroplasticity. So what is this magical solution?
Several research studies have found that travel is directly related to boosting one’s mental health. Another passive benefit it provides is improved physical health. It may not work like a video game that every experience of travelling is giving you a giant prompt flashing that your health is getting better than before encountering that experience. However, immersing yourself in a completely different setting (new languages, new people, new cultures) for certain amount of time will trigger synapses in your brain to release neurotransmitters from nerve-endings of a neuron to connect with the receptor molecules of another neuron. This happens when you are acquiring a new language, a new skill, or new knowledge. Never thought of travelling in this way? Pick up your itinerary, choose your destinations, start packing and get your cheap flights to get a once in a blue moon experience!
This process of mental activity becomes quicker when you are in a new destination and encounter a barrage of new information that you never came across in real life (although you did read about it on the internet or heard stories from others). If you are looking for long-term benefits for your psychological well-being and boosting creativity, I suggest you plan a long itinerary. But if you are of the type who wants to release chronic stress and have a memorable and invigorating experience, then a short vacation from work is just for you. Below, you will see a number of benefits which travelling can offer.
Be advised, like everything in life, there is no such thing as a free lunch, so plan according to your budget!
Study from the Academy of Management Journal found that people were more imaginative and inspired than those who stayed in the US, because of cultural immersion. It is also the reason why leaders’ foreign professional experiences serve as a catalyst for innovation and creative thought processes.
When you come across unique places like a Middle Eastern bazaar or floating markets in Bangkok, you experience a new way of shopping. It helps with your bargaining skills, interacting with locals and discovering peculiar items which you may not stumble often. Such places allow your mind to develop perspectives that brick and mortar shopping malls are not the types to exist in the world. This helps in thinking outside the box and coming up with innovative solutions in your organization.
IT MAKES YOU MORE TRUSTING
When you get bombarded with false information like general stereotypes of a particular country, violence on the news and incorrect character delineations in movies/TV, you become paranoid. It is natural and it is frustrating to get out of that mindset. Travelling allows you to not only see things for yourself, but also meet people and find things freely. This helps to alleviate excessive paranoia and prejudice and becoming relatively more trustworthy of others. Basically, you still have faith in humanity by the end of your trip. According to Maddux who told Buzzfeed Life, “The more foreign countries people travel to, the more their sense of generalized trust increases”.
Travelling is especially helpful for those who are introverts or are too risk-averse. It really takes them out of their comfort zone and compels them to interact in new surroundings. The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology study found that students who studied abroad were more open to experiences in their everyday lives than those who stayed on campus.
YOU BECOME SHARPER
This one is pretty obvious. When you immerse yourself in natural surroundings like forests, clean air and beaches, your senses become rejuvenated. It happens because your sensory inputs become desensitized to constant and dull stimuli at workplace. Breathing fresh air and taking in natural scenery sharpens your mind and makes you more motivated.
Aside from waiting long hours at an airport or sitting through several vehicles, you do get chances to be active. Things like sight-seeing by walking or climbing hills to see an amazing view of surroundings requires you to get out of the seat and create not just memories, but also stamina. Moreover, you get chances to get into exhilarating sports that a country has to offer. Even when you spend all day at a beach, your leg muscles work more when strolling and playing beach sports in sand.
SENSE OF PURPOSE/INSPIRATION
You might have heard that writers and actors stay at various places in the globe, aside from their usual setting, to truly understand a culture and their people’s behaviors. It is for adding insights in their upcoming books or getting into the character deeply the actors are given to perform. Reason is not that they have too much free time on their hands, but because they want to execute to the best of their abilities. Same goes for ordinary folks. When some of you are clueless about your ambitions or want to find inspiration on your own (rather than being dictated your fate by others), travelling will help you to get into the deepest part of your mind and expand your horizon. Who knows! Maybe after taking so much sensory input from different places, you will one day ignite a spark that will unleash your hidden talents.
INCREASES YOUR HAPPINESS
A study was conducted by researchers at the University of Surrey in the UK, which showed that even when people did not start travelling, simply thinking about their upcoming trip made people happier compared to those who didn’t. It gave them a sense of joy that their economic conditions and quality of life were getting better (Lifehack). Another study indicated that people get more happiness when anticipating a travel experience, rather than anticipating a material purchase. What this means is that happiness gained from travel is more long- lasting than happiness gained from buying new stuff.