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Science Proves That Traveling Can Boost Your Health And Overall Well-Being

Science Proves That Traveling Can Boost Your Health And Overall Well-Being

If there was a way you could improve your health and overall well-being (and that of your loved ones too), you would take it, right?

Well, numerous studies have found taking time off to travel not only gives us a breather from work, but also boosts our health, state of mind and overall well-being.

Those who love traveling know just how invigorating and exciting it can be. Nothing helps you rediscover yourself and enjoy the beauty of the world quite like a well planned vacation. Some of the ways exploring the world can enhance your well-being are quite intriguing, surprising even.

Here’re some interesting ways travelling boosts your health and well-being all backed by science.

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1. Planning a trip itself increases your sense of happiness.

Researchers at the University of Surrey in the UK conducted a study in 2002 and found that people are happiest when they have a trip coming up. We experience a greater sense of joy and feel great about our own health, our families’ economic situation and general quality of life when we have a vacation on the horizon than people who don’t.

In fact, a more recent study in 2014 from Cornell University discovered that people get more happiness from anticipating a travel experience than from anticipating possession of something they’re going to buy or acquire. So, plan that trip. It could be the best thing you do for your well-being.

2. Traveling helps you manage stress and negative emotions.

Sometimes we just want to get as far away from a place. Travelling isn’t always about seeing new places. Sometimes it’s about escaping old ones. According to a 2013 Stress in America survey by the American Psychological Association, vacations can help manage stress and negative emotions by removing us from environments and activities that are the sources of our stress.

Wallace J. Nichols, author of “Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected and Better at What You Do” agrees and adds that travelling also helps reset our emotions. We are more compassionate with ourselves and others vacationing—especially when we escape near the water.

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He explains:

“Often associated with feelings of awe and wonder, water can boost our empathy and compassion, our connection to ourselves and those we are with, and for many – from musicians like Pharrell Williams to neurologists like Oliver Sacks – it’s a steady source of creativity and insight.”

3. Traveling reduces the chance of depression.

Our modern lifestyles, characterized by constant busyness, lead to the stress, irritability and negative effects on our productivity, efficiency and well-being many of us lament. The situation is so bad that women who vacation less than once every two years are more likely to suffer from depression and stress than women who vacation at least twice a year, according to a 2005 study by the Marshfield Clinic in Wisconsin. Thankfully, when it comes to the benefits of travelling, stress relief tops the list.

Dr. Margaret J. King, director of the Center for Cultural Studies & Analysis, a think tank focused on the products and ideas that drive consumer decisions, explains how traveling helps relieve stress and improve our overall well-being. She writes:

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“There are lots of psychological benefits from change of venue from home and work to ‘third places’ devoted to just experiencing the environment. With a short list of activities each day, freed up from the complexities of ongoing projects and relationships, the mind can reset, as does the body, with stress relief the main outcome.”

Humans thrive on novelty, she adds, and travel offers the complete package with new faces, sounds and sights. We feel happier, well-rested and more energized when we get back from a vacation.

4. Travelling enriches your experiences and understanding of the true essence of life.

Some people think that the more material possessions they accumulate, the greater their happiness will be. However, you’ll soon learn (if you haven’t already) that material goods—cars, mansions, jewelry and so on—tend to depreciate with age, and thus satisfaction with these things tends to decrease over time, whereas rewarding experiences like travelling grow richer over time as they become embellished in memory.

Even short trips can be enriching because you expose yourself to diverse cultures, traditions, passions and perspectives when you travel. Ultimately, you become a more enlightened and engaged citizen of the world. Overtime you might want to trade in your fancy car, but you won’t want to trade in a vacation because that would mean chipping away cherished memories and losing experiences and a part of yourself.

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A 2010 Cornell study found this to be true: Buying travel experiences leaves you happier in the long run than buying things.

5. Traveling reduces your risk of a heart attack.

Cases of heart attack have continued to rise over the years and it’s interesting to note that scientific studies have found men who do not take a vacation for several years are 30 percent more likely to have a heart attack. Those men who go on vacation regularly are 21 percent less likely to die of such an attack, while women who go on holiday only once every six years are eight times more likely to suffer a heart attack.

As surprising as these findings may be, upon closer inspection you can see why that’s the case. Travelers tend to be more active than those who spend most of their lives sitting in an office chair all day.

Tourists can walk as much as ten miles a day, sightseeing and soaking up attractions in faraway places. Travelers are also more inclined to try new activities while on their travels, such as hiking, paddleboarding and snorkeling. These activities boost physical and mental health.

According to the World Heart Federation, moderate exercise lowers your risk of heart attack by 30% to 50%. So, yes, science agrees that you are doing yourself a big favor when you embrace travelling.

Featured photo credit: Man Walking through a City Park Wearing Hat/Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

More by this author

David K. William

David is a publisher and entrepreneur who tries to help professionals grow their business and careers, and gives advice for entrepreneurs.

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Last Updated on November 19, 2020

The Gentle Art of Saying No for a Less Stressful Life

The Gentle Art of Saying No for a Less Stressful Life

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments—you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time. That’s why the art of saying no can be a game changer for productivity.

Requests for your time are coming in all the time—from family members, friends, children, coworkers, etc. To stay productive, minimize stress, and avoid wasting time, you have to learn the gentle art of saying no—an art that many people have problems with.

What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger, or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

However, it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here’s how to stop people pleasing and master the gentle art of saying no.

1. Value Your Time

Know your commitments and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it.

Be honest when you tell them that: “I just can’t right now. My plate is overloaded as it is.” They’ll sympathize as they likely have a lot going on as well, and they’ll respect your openness, honesty, and attention to self-care.

2. Know Your Priorities

Even if you do have some extra time (which, for many of us, is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time?

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For example, if my wife asks me to pick up the kids from school a couple of extra days a week, I’ll likely try to make time for it as my family is my highest priority. However, if a coworker asks for help on some extra projects, I know that will mean less time with my wife and kids, so I will be more likely to say no. 

However, for others, work is their priority, and helping on extra projects could mean the chance for a promotion or raise. It’s all about knowing your long-term goals and what you’ll need to say yes and no to in order to get there. 

You can learn more about how to set your priorities here.

3. Practice Saying No

Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word[1].

Sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.

4. Don’t Apologize

A common way to start out is “I’m sorry, but…” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important when you learn to say no, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm and unapologetic about guarding your time.

When you say no, realize that you have nothing to feel bad about. You have every right to ensure you have time for the things that are important to you. 

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5. Stop Being Nice

Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. However, if you erect a wall or set boundaries, they will look for easier targets.

Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.

6. Say No to Your Boss

Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss—they’re our boss, right? And if we start saying no, then we look like we can’t handle the work—at least, that’s the common reasoning[2].

In fact, it’s the opposite—explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.

7. Pre-Empting

It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting,

“Look, everyone, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects, and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”

This, of course, takes a great deal of awareness that you’ll likely only have after having worked in one place or been friends with someone for a while. However, once you get the hang of it, it can be incredibly useful.

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8. Get Back to You

Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, try saying no this way:

“After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.”

At least you gave it some consideration.

9. Maybe Later

If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say,

“This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].”

Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands. If you need to continue saying no, here are some other ways to do so[3]:

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Saying no the healthy way

    10. It’s Not You, It’s Me

    This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often, the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time.

    Simply say so—you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization—but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true, as people can sense insincerity.

    The Bottom Line

    Saying no isn’t an easy thing to do, but once you master it, you’ll find that you’re less stressed and more focused on the things that really matter to you. There’s no need to feel guilty about organizing your personal life and mental health in a way that feels good to you.

    Remember that when you learn to say no, isn’t about being mean. It’s about taking care of your time, energy, and sanity. Once you learn how to say no in a good way, people will respect your willingness to practice self-care and prioritization. 

    More Tips for a Less Stressful Life

    Featured photo credit: Kyle Glenn via unsplash.com

    Reference

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