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Studies Show How Travel Can Make You Smarter And Healthier

Studies Show How Travel Can Make You Smarter And Healthier

In today’s on-the-go world, it’s hard to take a break. And I don’t mean a 15 minute break to get a quick cup of coffee. I’m talking about a break from your daily tasks, office responsibilities and everyday pressures. I’m talking about a vacation, a destination getaway to a tropical island or a cross-country road trip through America’s heartland.

A recent study shows that more and more Americans are forgoing their vacation days, opting to work months on end to meet tight deadlines and prove company loyalty. And while managers probably appreciate your dedication to the job, your mind, body and soul are anxiously waiting for a much-needed break.

Why does your mind, body and soul desperately need a jet-setting experience? Because traveling can improve your overall health and boost your creativity.

That’s right–traveling can positively affect your ability to be innovative while helping you de-stress, which improves your brain health, heart health and physical health.

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Traveling Boosts Creativity

For most, creativity comes through new and exciting experiences. But when the most exciting thing about your day is the commute to and from work, or the office gossip at the water cooler, you’re limiting your mind’s ability to expand and be inspired.

Professor and author Adam Galinksy says that “foreign experiences increase both cognitive flexibility and depth and integrativeness of thought, the ability to make deep connections between disparate forms.” This essentially means that new sounds, sights and smells all spark the creativity synapses in the brain.

How can you get those brain synapses to fire? By traveling.

Many creatives, like writers Ernest Hemingway and Mark Twain, used their international traveling experiences to sculpt their work. Hemingway’s novels are heavily inspired by his time spent in France and Spain, and Twain’s sail through the Mediterranean is documented in his travelogue Innocents Abroad. Their exposure to new and different cultures enabled them to write some of their best work.

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Vacationing in another country, or even another state, helps you open your mind. You can try exotic foods, visit notable landmarks, make friends with locals, or even hike through the mountains. Simply immersing yourself in a different environment for several days can inspire your creative abilities to new heights. And not only will you be more creative, you’ll be healthier and happier.

Traveling Improves Your Health

Traveling boosts brain power

Your mental health also experiences the perks of traveling. A poll conducted by the U.S. Travel Association discovered that travel, especially for retirees, prevents dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

The study also found that 86% of those who travel are more satisfied with their outlook on life, compared to the 75% who do not travel.

Traveling strengthens your heart

Not only does traveling enrich your brain power, but it also strengthens your heart health. The Framingham Heart Study found that those who didn’t take a vacation for several years were more likely to suffer from heart attacks than those who traveled annually.

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Why is this?

Because those who get away from their work and homes are typically less stressed and less anxious–decreasing the strain on their hearts. In fact, travelers also reported that their stress-free and light-hearted feelings lasted for weeks after they returned home from their vacation.

Traveling keeps you physically fit

Being on vacation makes you more active. You are out exploring, strolling through markets, hiking trails, or even lounging the beach. You are breathing in the fresh air and enjoying striking views. And even if you end up sitting on a tour bus for a few mornings, you are still doing more than if you were stuck at the office or watching TV at home.

Overall, traveling makes you happy :)

It isn’t just the actual vacation that is good for you; it’s the complete planning, getaway, and return home experience that improves your health.

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2014 Cornell research study found that people experience more happiness just knowing they are going on a vacation versus knowing they are going to be purchasing something. Another study done in 2002 by professors at the University of Surrey found that people are happiest when they know they have a trip coming up. So just the act of planning a vacation can significantly improve your overall well-being.

It isn’t hard to imagine either. Think about how excited you get when you are planning your vacation. How fun it is to plan your itinerary, to pack your new outfits, and to tell your friends and family about where you are going. All of these things positively impact your well-being.

So let the vacation planning begin–book your ticket to the next destination on your bucket list, pack your bags and passport, and let your mind absorb the creativity and stress-free aura from your travels.

Featured photo credit: Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.com

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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