Travel and Self-care

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travel and self-care

Several years ago, I read that it is as beneficial for you to plan a trip, as it to take it. This is especially appreciated when we are broke, right? But ultimately, travel is an important part of our well-being. Travel and self-care go hand and hand.

A Cornell University study claimed the mere anticipation of a trip can increase your happiness substantially. That’s powerful stuff. I’m not going to tell you just to dream about it though. I want you to actually take it, even if it takes you months to save up for it.

The good news is travel is becoming more economical. If you plan smart, use public transportation and immerse yourself in the local culture, you will get the most out of the experience. Delving into the local scene, experiencing both the music, and the cuisine, will afford you the ultimate experience.

Travel benefits

One study found that several days after a vacation, subjects’ physical complaints, as well as their quality of sleep and mood, had improved as compared to before vacation. These benefits were still present five weeks later. That’s impressive. If you can feel physically, emotionally, and mentally better following a vacation, don’t you have a personal obligation to do so – for yourself, your family, and your employer?

Psychology Today, affirmed traveling’s ability to induce happiness, creativity, and stress relief. A study from the Marshfield Clinic in Wisconsin found that women who vacation at least twice a year are less likely to suffer from depression and chronic stress than women who vacation less than once every two years.

But don’t let the two trips a year thing throw you. Your vacations don’t have to be 10-day long, $10,000 excursions. Do you really need an elite hotel if you are out exploring anyway? Plan according to convenience and efficiency. If you are close to a metro, even better.

Lose yourself when you travel

Losing yourself in a new world, increases your creativity. Galinksy, a researcher who has produced multiple studies on this subject, ‘travel’ enhances “depth and integrativeness of thought,” This is what gives your creativity a jolt. But it isn’t packing your bags or taking that flight that provides this boost. Immersing yourself in the culture once you arrive is what stimulates this effect of “depth of thought.”

Because the neural pathways in our brain are influenced by environment and habit, the more stimulation we have, the better. Thus, a lack of stimulation can, in a sense, lull your brain into a lackluster position. By experiencing new smells, sounds, sights, and tastes, you can induce your brain back into a more rejuvenated state.

Travel and self-care, immerse yourself

I did a brief study abroad in Italy in 2006. We attended a cooking school in Sienna for two days. Making pasta from scratch and learning to use olive oil for cooking made a difference in how I prepare food to this day. Now, I use fresh herbs and higher quality meats because I know the difference it makes in flavor and nutrition.

That cultural experience, learning to prepare traditional Italian cuisine, changed my life. And anytime I use olive oil or balsamic vinaigrette, I’m transported to a place in time where enjoying quality food and taking your time was demanded. It helps me slow down in my everyday life as well.

One phrase I’ve heard over and over through the years is, “travel broadens your mind.” It does so in many ways. Creativity, happiness, and relaxation are all important parts of self-care. Make no mistake, travel and self-care go hand in hand. You do need it. Don’t get bogged down by a passport or pricing. If you have to pick a town within your country for a long weekend trip, do it. You’ll be impressed with how renewed your soul is when you return. And when you feel it start to wear off, start planning the next one!

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