There are business, life and heart reasons to travel. But is it really good for you?
I've seen dramatic changes in our family dynamics, stress, the health of my family and our collective joy. I bet you have, too. While we haven't been able to fly together to Europe yet, or stay for long in a foreign country, the boys got their passports and we are getting ready to take our first trip to Canada this week. Based on the research I've been seeing, we might need to prioritize international travel and longer stays in the future.
In an article from NBC news, published in May of 2017, they claim 5 scientifically proven health benefits to traveling abroad including health, stress, creativity, increased happiness and decreased depression. For the full article click here: https://www.nbcnews.com/better/wellness/5-scientifically-proven-health-benefits-traveling-abroad-n759631. Of course, a lot of this sounds obvious- as we move outside of our comfort zones, we take in with a new sense of presence and wonder. We get curious and open ourselves up to the smaller details of a place, looking for quaint bookshops or unique coffee shops... we may even take in a concert or poetry slam. Presence of mind is much more the expectation when we travel as we navigate, plan, explore and discover. Aside from that, travel often means we leave behind the glaring expectations of home life. We do fewer chores, focus less on checklists and distractions from what is really on our hearts. I'll be creative all day long if I don't have to wash my own dishes or do my own laundry. You? Thought so.
According to Forbes magazine, travel makes you smarter. The article by Jordan Bishop (September 2017) sites different research showing the impact of studying abroad and cultural integration on the ability of graduate students to perform their best on assessments requiring creativity, problem solving and holding multiple perspectives in the brain at the same time. He also shared that students with travel, longer stays and ability to adapt to a different environment were often offered more jobs and higher pay. So, maybe more than a week get away is something to keep in mind. I keep fantasizing about buying an RV and traveling from town to town on the breeze.
Maybe you don't have the money to fly somewhere or stay in a remote location. BUT, I bet you do have enough gas in the tank to travel to the next town over and act as a tourist. Pay a few bucks and buy a coffee in a little shop there, visit their local attractions. See if you can foster the same wonder you'd have as if you just got off the plane. Research also shows that reconnecting with nature is hugely beneficial to us. I
f your travel simply means wandering the woods in your own back yard and seeking animal tracks or birdsong, you can still evoke a more harmonious outlook. In an article from Positive Psychology https://positivepsychology.com/positive-effects-of-nature/ by Madhuleena Roy Chowdhury, MA, the benefits from traveling through and being within nature is long proven by research. She shares how we can improve our eyesight, regulate our nervous systems, lower our BMI and stimulate anti-cancer proteins just by moving through nature. Lowering our cortisol, the natural world also contributes positively to our overall well being. For children, read the book, ‘Last Child In The Woods’ where Richard Louvre shares the idea of ‘Nature-Deficit Disorder'. As stated in Chowdhury's article, "Forest bathing, or Shinrin-yoku, as they call it in Japan, is a famous way of spending time in nature. Research has shown that people who practice forest bathing have optimum nervous system functions, well-balanced heart conditions, and reduced bowel disorders."
So, if we gain all these benefits from putting one foot in front of the other, hopping on a train or plane, why don't we do it more often? Aside from lack of money, it may also relate to our decision making process. Make a decision to go outside for a walk. Countdown from 5-1 and just move before you get to 1. You are more likely to be committed enough to have your shoes on and your body in motion to reap the awesome benefits of nature.
For more information, comment below. We would also love to have you join us in my free, private wellness group, Journey Through The Wilderness.