Holidays are great. There’s nothing quite like that feeling of pleasure and relaxation that one gets from travelling to a faraway destination, leaving behind the daily grind and the dreary weather. The exotic climate, delicious food, and culture are what make trips away from home so special.
We all know that getting away and taking a break from things is a crucial way for us all to let off a bit of steam and de-stress, but most people don’t consider how holidays can have an actual, tangible effect on general wellbeing.
Let’s take a closer look at why travelling may be a crucial part of your health regime.
In the past decade, scientific research has been carried out on the relatively mysterious concept of happiness, with particular focus placed on mapping out what exactly makes humans happy and how this affects behaviour.
Studies have shown that investing in experiences (or objects that create experiences) can play a significant role in maintaining or improving a positive mindset. The opposite can be said for superficial goods, which provide us with joy, but only for a brief while. As adaptive beings, buying a new coat or car gives a sense of happiness that we are likely to grow use to very quickly — leading us back to square one again.
However, spending money on experiences and the creation of positive memories can have a long-term impact on our happiness. Flight costs, accommodation and the preparation necessary to organise a successful trip may appear costly, but spending time with loved ones or splashing cash on a trip alone, offers a wealth of happy memories that you will look back on and treasure for ever. So next time you consider that new wardrobe over a once in a lifetime trip, it could be wise to think again!
Reducing anxiety, stress and depression
Settling into a routine of work and social commitments can quickly lead to feelings of stress and anxiety. Breaking out of this routine can help deal with lower stress levels and improve mental wellbeing. A study by the Global Commission on Ageing and Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies released evidence that suggests that a trip away from home can reduce stress — with almost immediate effect. After a day or two, 89% of the participants involved accounted a significant drop in stress levels. Seeing new places and meeting new people also serves to improve confidence and promote feelings of independence in individuals.
Travelling on holiday also has the potential to help keep you physically fit. Carrying luggage to and fro, walking the streets of a city for hours to discover attractions and entertainment, swimming in a campsite pool, skiiing or trying your hand at adventure tourism and really getting your heart rate up – all of these can help to burn calories and raise the heart rate. Of course, there’s always the danger of eating too much rich food and drinking a few too many beverages to counteract this.
Healthier heart and mind
Research has also shown those who holiday less are at a significantly higher risk of heart attack or coronary death. Experiencing new places and things can help keep the mind active too, specifically once we get older. Placed in a new situation is more challenging to your brain and is likely to have a positive impact on cognitive health helping to develop the brain’s nerve cells.
While travel can clearly be beneficial to your health, it is worth bearing in mind that exposure to exotic and previously unencountered diseases can bring a swift conclusion to the fun and frivolity of a vacation. For that reason, you should always seek the help and advice of your local travel clinician before you head abroad – with their support you can gain the relevant immunisations for your trip and keep you safe from harm.