Employers have long known that vacations are good for their employees and their bottom line. Workers who take time off demonstrate increased productivity, creativity and longevity; they are likely to show lower rates of depression and heart disease. Time away from the office is advantageous to your well-being; time away from home has even more mental health benefits. Here are six ways travel is good for you.
It seems Americans are experiencing the negative effects of stress in ever larger numbers. Practicing yoga and meditation on a regular basis can help, but sometimes you need a break from work and the daily grind. Vacations help. Imagine relaxing on a beautiful sunny beach and snorkeling among colorful coral reefs during a luxury bahamas cruise—your blood pressure may dip just thinking of it.
The old adage says that you can’t buy happiness; new research shows that you may be able to if you spend your money on experiences rather than things. Travel is especially good at enhancing your emotional capacity, encouraging sensitivity and increasing your thankfulness for the rich diversity and beauty in the world. To maximize the happiness effect, enjoy the stages before and after the trip. Much of the benefit of travel is in the planning, so take your time and savor the anticipation. When you return home, look back often to reminisce and share stories, extending your enjoyment long after the trip is over.
If you live in a cold climate or one with remarkably shorter days during winter, you may be one of the millions of Americans who suffer with Seasonal Affective Disorder. Lightboxes and guided imagery help, but one surefire way to beat the winter blues is to travel closer to the equator. Sunshine, warmth, extended daylight hours and time in nature can energize you and help you focus.
Encourages Physical Activity
If your typical day consists of being seated at a desk, sitting in traffic, then reclining on your couch, you are in dire need of more physical activity. Adventure and active travel vacations are rising in popularity, but just about any trip tends to boost your activity level. Historical and cultural destinations often involve walking tours; tropical locales offer opportunities to kayak, snorkel and swim. Fascinating, bustling cities around the world are best experienced as a pedestrian. Even if you don’t want to walk around the block in your own neighborhood, you may happily walk a mile or more to see interesting new sights when you travel.
You can see all the pictures you want of Michelangelo’s David, but until you have stood in the Accademia Gallery in Florence, you cannot fully appreciate the amazing workmanship or understand the worldwide adoration for this work of art. History class in high school may have seemed boring, but when you learn about the world through your own senses you cannot help but open your mind and your heart. Smell the spices in the open air markets of Marrakech, feel the fine weave of silks in Asia, breathe in the cold, thin air of Machu Picchu in Peru. Learning about the world also helps you learn about yourself. Travel mishaps challenge you to overcome obstacles you have never encountered before, and the confidence you earn on vacation will stay with you long after you have returned home. After all, if you can figure out bullet trains and U-Bahn schedules you can figure out anything.
Connects You With Nature
Many of us don’t get outdoors enough on a daily basis, but on vacation we often find ourselves outside for hours. Sunlight stimulates vitamin D production and helps boost serotonin which improves mood and reduces anxiety, and sun exposure during the day may lead to better sleep at night. Sunshine isn’t the only reason to immerse yourself in nature; studies have shown that walking in natural settings may put people at less risk for depression and anxiety issues. If you live in an urban area or spend most of your days surrounded by asphalt, buildings and traffic, a tropical vacation may be just what the doctor ordered.