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Why You Should Take a “Gap” Year as an Adult

Why You Should Take a “Gap” Year as an Adult

Editor’s note: The following is a guest post by Vivienne Egan Vivienne writes for FHR, who provide Heathrow Airport parking.

Many of us associate the term ‘gap year’ as an activity exclusively for teenagers. Typically the year after school or college and before entering university, people will head off for a year in some exotic antipodean location, sometimes taking a job and generally “seeing a bit of the world” along the way.

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But are your late teens really the best time to see the world? As shown in the above popular YouTube sketch, the gap year has become the domain of the wealthy whose parents can afford to support them as they travel. The clip also highlights the question: is it really at an age where we can appreciate, learn from and respect other cultures?

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These days, a lot more people are taking their ‘gap’ year after university or a few years into their working lives. They are saving up their own money and coming to travels with more life experience and a greater understanding of the world.

Also popular is combining a university exchange programme with travels. Simon, a 25-year old law student from Sydney, Australia took part in a university exchange in Montreal, Canada for six months and then travelled through Europe. “The best part of being an international student was having the opportunity to live in a foreign city for an extended period. Visiting a city for a few days pales in comparison to the experience of actually living there.”

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Being a bit older will also mean extra freedoms – for instance travelling in America before the age of 21 means age restrictions on going to bars, and in many countries to hire a car you need to be over the age of 25. Being a little older and wiser as a traveller will mean that you make more informed decisions and are less likely to get into tight situations.

Chrissy, currently travelling overseas for the first time at 30, has found a few challenges to travelling solo – “I’ve found it difficult to meet people while travelling as I’m not staying in hostels. I’m now planning to meet and stay with friends and friends of friends who can show me to less touristy areas.”

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Beginning to travel is great at any age. Sharon caught the travel bug at the tender age of 56 and hasn’t looked back. She has cruised the Rhine, navigated across Japan on the bullet train and driven across the deserts of Western Australia. “I’ve travelled alone, with friends and in organised groups. I’ve made lots of friends and had amazing experiences that I never imagined I would have.”

Have you been on a gap year? What age were you and would you do it again?

Featured photo credit: Hiker via Shutterstock

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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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