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If You Start To Travel More Often, You Can Grow Your Brain

If You Start To Travel More Often, You Can Grow Your Brain

Ready to expand your mind?  Give you brain a boost in power? Then it is time to pack your bags and take a trip. Venture out of the concrete jungles and get ready to explore. As your flight takes off and you know what is next. Trillions of new experiences.You just cannot wait. Life is awesome! The world waits. Neurogenesis sprouts out when you travel to complex, novel, and new surroundings.

But First Off, Stop with the Excuses

When people hear about traveling experiences they enviously spurt out ‘You are so lucky, I wish I could…’ and follow up with excuses of paying their bills, etc. What it amounts to is just that–excuses.

Many may think traveling is way out of range for them, expensive and out of financial barriers. Agreed that it is not free, however you do not have to be a millionaire to see many places and build up a wealth of lifetime memories. It is not an impossible fantasy exclusively for the rich.

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Some Practical Saving Tips

If you cannot take a trip to Vietnam why not explore a town nearby or tour your own town? Analyze your bank statements; there should be at least something on your monthly expenditure list that you can sacrifice if you save the amounts you spend on weekend takeaways for a year; it will afford a trip you always dreamt about. But if you just work, eat, sleep and pay bills never making time to travel or even share time with friends and family what does your existence amount to?

How Traveling Impacts You

Traveling is about close encounters with an unusual and new situation. It may be simply finding your way around the surroundings or ordering a meal in a language you not very familiar with. Studies have confirmed[1]the physical and mental benefits of traveling: social engagement, cognitive stimulation, and physical activity.

Traveling will awaken you to the realization that there are many different cultures and ways of life. You burst with new experiences and insight. New experiences boost cognitive health; your active brain creates new connections as it programs the unusual stimuli into categories. Plunging to explore the world will be an exercise you will not regret.

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Paul Nussbaum from the University of Pittsburg, a neurological surgery professor has affirmed that traveling grows the capacity of the brain as the challenges start to sprout dendrites, which are extensions. Surprisingly, travel relays the stress of being thrust out of normal daily routines, as your brain is ignited to react and engage attentively.

Where to Start

Although reaching mountain summits or strolling medieval cities can entice you, start with a simple weekend trip away from work or home. The experience and memories stay engraved and unforgettable.

Travel Opens up Our Minds

According to William Maddux, Ph.D. and his party found that people are more creative when they are integrated into new cultures[2]. When your mind opens up into the realms of different ideas, you become more creative.

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Toby Israel the author of Someplace like Home iterates that traveling is about reflecting on our lives from a physical and metaphorical distance. This helps us to assess our lives clearly.

Just How Amazing Travel is for your Brain

Anticipating a vacation sprouts a higher level of happiness than a new shirt according to a Psychological Science Journal. Researchers affirm that waiting for experiences equals to a higher level of happiness than mere material objects.[3]

A  US Travel Association recent study found that people who take vacation days have higher chances of being promoted at work than those rigidly staying behind their desks.[4]

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Travel is about meeting people, intellectual stimulation via exploring new and interesting things, and new information stretching our understanding of the world. It increases the neural connections and enhances stimulating activity like problem-solving, education, occupational learning. Studies reveal that students living abroad are more likely to solve computer tasks than students who did not travel. [5]

We’ll leave you with a quote by Mark Twain, “Innocents Abroad”

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

Featured photo credit: pixabay via cdn.pixabay.com

Reference

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Last Updated on September 10, 2018

Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science

Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science

We thought that the expression ‘broken heart’ was just a metaphor, but science is telling us that it is not: breakups and rejections do cause physical pain. When a group of psychologists asked research participants to look at images of their ex-partners who broke up with them, researchers found that the same brain areas that are activated by physical pain are also activated by looking at images of ex-partners. Looking at images of our ex is a painful experience, literally.[1].

Given that the effect of rejections and breakups is the same as the effect of physical pain, scientists have speculated on whether the practices that reduce physical pain could be used to reduce the emotional pain that follows from breakups and rejections. In a study on whether painkillers reduce the emotional pain caused by a breakup, researchers found that painkillers did help. Individuals who took painkillers were better able to deal with their breakup. Tamar Cohen wrote that “A simple dose of paracetamol could help ease the pain of a broken heart.”[2]

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Just like painkillers can be used to ease the pain of a broken heart, other practices that ease physical pain can also be used to ease the pain of rejections and breakups. Three of these scientifically validated practices are presented in this article.

Looking at images of loved ones

While images of ex-partners stimulate the pain neuro-circuitry in our brain, images of loved ones activate a different circuitry. Looking at images of people who care about us increases the release of oxytocin in our body. Oxytocin, or the “cuddle hormone,” is the hormone that our body relies on to induce in us a soothing feeling of tranquility, even when we are under high stress and pain.

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In fact, oxytocin was found to have a crucial role as a mother is giving birth to her baby. Despite the extreme pain that a mother has to endure during delivery, the high level of oxytocin secreted by her body transforms pain into pleasure. Mariem Melainine notes that, “Oxytocin levels are usually at their peak during delivery, which promotes a sense of euphoria in the mother and helps her develop a stronger bond with her baby.”[3]

Whenever you feel tempted to look at images of your ex-partner, log into your Facebook page and start browsing images of your loved ones. As Eva Ritvo, M.D. notes, “Facebook fools our brain into believing that loved ones surround us, which historically was essential to our survival. The human brain, because it evolved thousands of years before photography, fails on many levels to recognize the difference between pictures and people”[4]

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Exercise

Endorphins are neurotransmitters that reduce our perception of pain. When our body is high on endorphins, painful sensations are kept outside of conscious awareness. It was found that exercise causes endorphins to be secreted in the brain and as a result produce a feeling of power, as psychologist Alex Korb noted in his book: “Exercise causes your brain to release endorphins, neurotransmitters that act on your neurons like opiates (such as morphine or Vicodin) by sending a neural signal to reduce pain and provide anxiety relief.”[5] By inhibiting pain from being transmitted to our brain, exercise acts as a powerful antidote to the pain caused by rejections and breakups.

Meditation

Jon Kabat Zinn, a doctor who pioneered the use of mindfulness meditation therapy for patients with chronic pain, has argued that it is not pain itself that is harmful to our mental health, rather, it is the way we react to pain. When we react to pain with irritation, frustration, and self-pity, more pain is generated, and we enter a never ending spiral of painful thoughts and sensations.

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In order to disrupt the domino effect caused by reacting to pain with pain, Kabat Zinn and other proponents of mindfulness meditation therapy have suggested reacting to pain through nonjudgmental contemplation and acceptance. By practicing meditation on a daily basis and getting used to the habit of paying attention to the sensations generated by our body (including the painful ones and by observing these sensations nonjudgmentally and with compassion) our brain develops the habit of reacting to pain with grace and patience.

When you find yourself thinking about a recent breakup or a recent rejection, close your eyes and pay attention to the sensations produced by your body. Take deep breaths and as you are feeling the sensations produced by your body, distance yourself from them, and observe them without judgment and with compassion. If your brain starts wandering and gets distracted, gently bring back your compassionate nonjudgmental attention to your body. Try to do this exercise for one minute and gradually increase its duration.

With consistent practice, nonjudgmental acceptance will become our default reaction to breakups, rejections, and other disappointments that we experience in life. Every rejection and every breakup teaches us great lessons about relationships and about ourselves.

Featured photo credit: condesign via pixabay.com

Reference

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