10 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Travelling – What Travelling Does For You?
By: Sherly J. Victor
Scientifically Proven Benefits of Travelling – What travelling can do for you?
Travelling is always linked to ecstasy and freedom. It is no longer an indicator of luxury. Going to a new place, meeting new people, living a different routine is a great change. Miriam Beard, the well-known American activist and historian, once quoted, “Travel is more than the seeing of sights; It is a change that goes on deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.”
It is a different feeling to wake up in an unfamiliar place, among unfamiliar people, and know about them. When you travel more, you realise how big the world is. You discover things and learn and unlearn many other things.
Some of you may not feel this to be enough to pack your bags and travel. But there are many scientifically-proven benefits of travelling. So, if you ask, what travel does for you? Here is the answer –
Scientifically Proven Benefits of Travelling: It keeps you healthier.
We, as humans, thrive on novelty. Our modern lifestyles have made us workaholics. And in the long run, it can make us lethargic and irritable. A change of space is a great health booster. According to a joint study from the Global Commission on Aging and Transamerica Centre for Retirement Studies, travelling makes us healthier in partnership with the U.S. Travel Association.
This 2005, scientifically proven study showed that women who travel at least twice a year are at a lower risk of suffering a heart attack. The same is the case for men. They have a 20% higher risk of death and a 30% higher risk of heart problems without any annual vacation or travel.
Also, a research paper in 2013 called ‘Destination Healthy Aging: The Physical, Cognitive And Social Benefits Of Travel’ proved that travel prevents disorders like Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Since travellers are more active on vacation, it keeps your body in regulation. Therefore, it is scientifically proven that the more you travel, the better your body will be.
A big cause of health detriment of our generation is not having a proper sleep cycle. It has long been recommended that, on average, a person should sleep for seven hours. This can be achieved easily while travelling. And this will help in improving your toxic sleep cycle in the long run.
Moreover, exposing yourself to various environments and climatic conditions boosts immunity. It makes your body more adaptive to various bacteria. Thus, your body will be less prone to any illness.
Benefits of Travelling: It reduces stress...
Yes, it is one of the scientifically proven benefits of travelling; it keeps you stress-free. A study from the International Journal of Environmental research and public health was titled “Short Vacation Improves Stress-Level and Well-Being in German-Speaking Middle-Managers—A Randomized Controlled Trial”. It showed that “a four-day “long weekend” vacation had positive effects on well-being, recovery, strain, and perceived stress for as long as 45 days. While the reduction in strain was greater for those who spent the vacation away from home, the other effects were similar for those who stayed home”.
This feeling of freedom will linger in your mind, for days, even after your vacation. Therefore, travelling has a prolonged effect on busting stress.
What Travelling does for you: It enhances creativity!
Our brain is sensitive to change that comes from a new environment or routine. Thus, it is scientifically proven that creativity is often linked with how our brain is wired, i.e., neuroplasticity. Adam Galinsky, a professor at Columbia Business School, has done various studies on the relationship between creativity and international travel.
He says, “Foreign experiences increase both cognitive flexibility and depth and integrativeness of thought, the ability to make deep connections between disparate forms.” However, it isn’t enough to travel. The traveller has to make the experience engaging and purposeful.
Adam further elaborates, “The key, critical process is multicultural engagement, immersion, and adaptation. Someone who lives abroad and doesn’t engage with the local culture will likely get less of a creative boost than someone who travels abroad and really engages in the local environment.”
Travelling requires you to have quick thinking. It demands travellers be more creative in new situations so as to tackle them. It is important to be creative and witted while visiting a new place. This practice enhances our creativity, which is one of the scientifically proven benefits of travelling.
“Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comforts of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things. Air, Sleep, Dream, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it,” quoted Cesare Pavese, the Italian novelist.
Scientifically Proven Benefits of Travelling: It increases your happiness.
Happiness is one of the most common scientifically proven benefits of travelling that everyone experiences.
Happiness is a feeling of contentment, which cannot be described fully in words. It is waking up to a sunrise at a new place and watching different people go about their day. Happiness is gazing at the stars from the top of a hill. People tend to be happier when they are vacationing, away from work.
Travelling is a great way to find happiness. You meet strangers, strike a conversation, see people smiling around you; all these factors can boost our happiness. It is highly likely that when we are at a new place, we tend to appreciate what we have, i.e., our family and friends, more. You feel ecstatic about sharing your experiences with them and talking to them.
Dr Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University, has studied for decades the question of money and happiness. He says, “One of the enemies of happiness is adaptation…… We buy things to make us happy, and we succeed. But only for a while. New things are exciting to us at first, but then we adapt to them.”
Therefore, this psychological study conducted by Gilovich and his team points that money buys happiness but only up till a certain point. Thus, more than objects, experiences give you more happiness. The reason is that the memory of an experience lasts longer and brings joy every time you look upon it.
What travelling does for you: It minimizes the risk of depression.
While our society continues to avoid the word depression like the plague, it is still a major problem. Depression is prevalent in today’s youth, and it is a concern. In contrast, we cannot claim that travelling can cure depression. But it can still be of some help. Travelling brings us out of the bubble that we often restrict ourselves within. It leaves us feeling refreshed and resilient. And now, it is a scientifically proven benefit of travelling.
Lead researcher of the Irvine study at the University of California, Dr Paul Piff, explained, “Our investigation indicates that awe, although often fleeting and hard to describe, serves a vital social function. When experiencing awe, you may not, egocentrically speaking, feel like you’re at the centre of the world anymore. By diminishing the emphasis on the individual self, awe may encourage people to forgo strict self-interest to improve the welfare of others.”
Ever heard of stargazing therapy? A study from 2014, titled “Dark Nature: Exploring potential benefits of nocturnal nature-based interaction for human and environmental health” proves that “nature connectedness was higher for those with more years of stargazing experience and for those who indicated noticing wildlife while stargazing. Participants highlighted a range of benefits, including a sense of personal growth from developing skills to experiencing positive emotions and a variety of transcendent thoughts and experiences.”
“The night sky is therapy,” says Ottawa astronomy educator Gary Boyle. Now, we are not saying you have to travel far. But imagine stargazing at the heavenly North Island sky of New Zealand or Alaska or Utah.
Benefits of Travelling: It can change your perspective for good.
Being in a different place forces us to adapt to that culture and the people’s preferences there. This has a huge impact on how we perceive the world. Our experiences change our perspective towards things in a much significant way. It enlarges our field of view and bursts our bubble of pre-conceived notions and prejudices. Thus, it is one of the most important scientifically-proven benefits of travelling.
It is difficult at first to engage with conflicting opinions and beliefs. But everything eases out in the long run. According to a study by a team of social scientists at Rice University, Columbia University and the University of North Carolina, “Living abroad can clarify your sense of self.”
“In this vein, our studies demonstrate that living abroad affects the fundamental structure of the self-concept by enhancing its clarity. The German philosopher Hermann von Keyserling wrote in the epigraph to his 1919 book ‘The Travel Diary of a Philosopher,’ ‘The shortest path to oneself leads worldwide.’ Almost 100 years later, our research provides empirical evidence in support of this idea,” the authors wrote.
This study pointed out that it is not about the number of places you have visited. But rather the amount of time one has spent away from home. “Traveling, long-term or not, helps cultivate empathy,” Olga Kraineva, a member of Remote Year Veritas, said. “After your very first trip outside of your native country, you begin to see that your way of living is not the only way to live. Different cultures have different values and customs which are equally important to them as your habits and customs are to you.”
Scientifically Proven Benefits of Travelling: It alleviates SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is, as the name suggests, seasonal depression. This is triggered by winter in most cases. However, it can affect some people during summer or spring, as well. But in most cases, it is associated with the lack of sunlight or fewer daylight hours. Due to this, individuals experience biochemical imbalance in the brain. And it is scientifically proven to have high-risk factors, like having death or suicide thoughts, frequently.
This affects a major change in our biological clock and impacts the serotonin levels, which affect our mood. Dr Joshua A Weiner is a psychiatrist practising in McLean. “I have patients who, if they have some SAD, I tell to make sure they go on a cruise or head somewhere sunnier every winter,” Weiner says. “It is unclear if it works because of the vacation or whether it’s the week in the sun, but either way, it seems to do the trick.”
So, whenever you feel like, ‘Winter is coming,’ grab your backpack and get down on that road. Read on about Dr Rosenthal’s experience on how he dealt with his Winter blues – https://bit.ly/36K9F6I
Scientifically Proven Benefits of Travelling: It extends your life expectancy.
We know it sounds too good to be true, but it is one of the many scientifically proven benefits of travelling. Do not dispose of us off, like any other Globetrotter, preaching the virtues of travelling. We have found you another scientifically proven benefit of travelling. Let’s say that we have found you the fountain of youth. Don’t believe us. But look at the results found by the University of Helsinki in their 40-year study. The study tracked 1200 businessmen back in the 1970s. All of them were considered to be at risk of developing heart disease because of their weight and other health issues.
The findings were announced at the European Society of Cardiology conference in Munich. Lead researcher Professor Timo Strandberg said that doctors should prescribe holidays rather than lifestyle changes to patients. “And if you think your spin classes and kombucha habit will make up for postponing that dream cruise and save you from your hectic, hard-driving life, think again. An improved, healthier lifestyle will not compensate for working too hard and not taking your holidays,” he said. “Vacations can be a good way to relieve stress.”
Benefits of Travelling: Travelling increases productivity!!!
Practically, productivity has nothing to do with the number of hours you spend at your office or workplace. Katie Denis, VP and lead researcher at Project: Time Off, a research group funded by the U.S. Travel Association, has researched the effects of vacation on the workplace for several years.
“The idea that we’re sacrificing this time off to get ahead, we’re not actually finding that’s true,” Denis said. She added that “The productivity, creativity, bringing new ideas forward isn’t the person who’s working crazy hours. It’s someone who’s getting outside of their day-to-day”.
In Norway, workers collectively take a vacation of two to three weeks in July. It is termed as “Fellesferie.” Similarly, in the Netherlands, workers in the construction industry take a ‘Bouwvak’. It is a break of several weeks. Also, the European Union’s Working Time Directive makes sure that every EU employee gets at least 20 days of paid vacation per year. Thus, it is a scientifically proven benefit of travelling.
Benefits of Travelling: Travel plans are like Serotonin.
Now, we agree that with the pandemic going on, travelling is not safe. But that does not you should not plan something for, when all this will be over. It is well researched and scientifically proven that planning and anticipating a future trip benefits your mental health.
A 2014 study, titled “Waiting for Merlot: Anticipatory Consumption of Experiential and Material Purchases,” was done at Cornell University. It showed how the anticipation of an experience like a trip/vacation increases our happiness substantially. Amit Kumar, one of the co-authors of this study, said, “One reason? Travelers “end up talking to people more about their experiences than they talk about material purchases,” he says. “Compared to possessions, experiences make for better story material.”
Kumar’s co-author Matthew Killingsworth says, “Trip-planning encourages an optimistic outlook. As humans, we spend a lot of our mental lives living in the future. Our future-mindedness can be a source of joy if we know good things are coming, and travel is an excellent thing to have to look forward to.”
Thus, even though there are a lot of travel restrictions at the moment. Do not let them stop you from hoping for a better future. And keep planning for that trip you always wanted to take. It is cliché to say, but we only live once. So, get started with your itineraries and find your perfect destination.
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