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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 20, 2018

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

1. Breathe

The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
  • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

2. Loosen up

After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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3. Chew slowly

Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

4. Let go

Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

It’s not. Promise.

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Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

5. Enjoy the journey

Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

6. Look at the big picture

The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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Will this matter to me…

  • Next week?
  • Next month?
  • Next year?
  • In 10 years?

Hint: No, it won’t.

I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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8. Practice patience every day

Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

  • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
  • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
  • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

Final thoughts

Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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