Travel Can Make Your Brain Happy!

You go to work; make some money; eat some food; interact with friends, family or co-workers; go home; and watch some TV. Nothing particularly bad happens, but you still can not shake a feeling of stress, or worry, or inadequacy, or loneliness. Whether you have a stressful life and need a break to relax, or you are feeling in a rut and could use some mental stimulation, taking a vacation can provide the perfect change of pace your mind needs. Studies have shown that vacations  can help excite your brain and make it “feel happy”  much like exercise does.

A change of scenery will do you good!  When you visit someplace you have not been before, this gives your brain the most  stimulation. Vacationing in the same place year after year might be enjoyable to you, but it will not stimulate your brain as much as seeing something new. Your brain thrives on activities that it considers new. St. Augustine said “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” So you do to want to keep reading the same page, but instead expand your line of vision.

Eating different foods, meeting new people, exploring and finding your way around unfamiliar places, and taking different modes of transportation are all ways that travel makes your brain work and exercise. Travel forces you to think and use skills that remain dormant and boosts your confidence. If you stop pushing yourself to try new things, eventually your world and confidence shrink, and so does your brain.

Some people have the opposite problem — their day-to-day life is so hectic and stressful that they could benefit from a more relaxing vacation. Have you ever been told you “should” relax, and even  think lying on the beach sipping on pina coladas sounds good?  If you are  used to a stressful life, you may find yourself bored and restless after a few hours.

Consider taking a guided, educational tour. This will provide enough stimulation to keep your interest, but not much stress since you leave the details and arrangements to others to plan out.

Americans are known for being the “no vacation nation”. Not only do we get less vacation time than many other countries, we are more likely to not use the vacation time we have! If this sounds like you, you need to know how genuinely unhealthy it is for you to not take advantage of your vacation time.

Financial restraints or personal obligations can sometimes make going away unrealistic. Then try a “staycation”. You can check into a local bed and breakfast, hotel, or resort and come away refreshed in less than 24 hours.

You can even sleep at home but do sightseeing in your own city or  within an hour or two drive and be back the same day. Maybe you’d prefer to turn off the phones and start that DIY project you’ve been putting off.

As long as you are doing something seriously different than your daily routine, your brain will benefit from the break.