How Travel Improves Health and Lowers Stress

How Travel Improves Health and Lowers Stress

As good as taking a vacation sounds, you may have some initial hesitations regarding travel. Let’s change that.

For many, the idea of traveling can sound fun, but be overwhelming, even stressful.

What happens if I miss my flight?
What if my hotel is dirty?
Could I get sick from the food or water?
What if I don’t speak the language?

All the potential doubts and unknowns might leave you wondering if traveling is really for you. There are, however, many more proven benefits. Language Barrier or not, both our physical well-being and our mental health can improve significantly while we are away…

Here are the four main reasons why:

1. Traveling Forces You To Be Active

One of the biggest draws to traveling is sightseeing. Most of these excursions include a certain amount of exercising.

Whether you’re drawn to ancient ruins thousands of feet above sea level, hidden waterfalls deep in the jungle, or hundreds of colorful fish below the ocean’s surface, you’re going to have to get moving to see them. Even if exercise isn’t part of your daily routine at home, it will be while you travel – believe it!

The more time you spend walking, hiking, or swimming on your vacation, the more your heart will have to work. This means you may be able to lower the risk of high blood pressure while you enjoy the scenery. As a bonus, there’s a good chance you’ll find time out of the office chair – which we’ve covered more extensively in this post – has helped you shed a few pounds!

Even if you only schedule a couple of adventures during your vacation, you can still use plenty of time to stay active. Most hotels and cruise ships offer free access to their gyms and swimming pools, and many of these are state-of-the-art.

Even if you never leave the resort that day, you’ll still get in plenty of activity. Take advantage of what’s around – it’s what a vacation is all about!

2. A Vacation Will Reduce Stress

Exercise will not only benefit your body, but will also boost your mood…

Exercise releases endorphins – those happy hormones that make you feel just as high mentally as you do physically. It’s been proven that exercise reduces stress and can help relieve symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression (source). If your body is given enough time to release positive hormones, these can quite easily outpace and overtake the stress hormones, leaving you happier and with more energy.

One other stress-reducing benefit of travel is that you are in control of your schedule, and can operate based on your own physical and mental clock. Even though you will probably have a basic itinerary, it is usually much slower-paced than your daily life…

You don’t have to worry about meeting deadlines, getting the kids to soccer practice on time, or being “late” for anything. Instead of counting the time, you can focus on enjoying the time spent with your friends, your partner or your family.

Often traveling can help us put things in our lives into a fresh perspective.

But apart from the exercise and time you’ll be enjoying, how can traveling minimize stress?

When we travel, we are physically removed from the daily stresses we encounter at work or home. True, those troubles don’t disappear because you’re out of town, but getting away allows you to take a mental break from them.

Often traveling can help us put things in our lives into a fresh perspective.
More often than not, that’s exactly the right perspective to have!

Traveling helps us to cope with stress better as well. As mentioned above, traveling does come with some worries. Often when we travel, things will happen that are out of our control…

A flight might be delayed, you might have trouble communicating with your taxi driver, or maybe you’re not entirely sure what you just ordered for dinner.

These moments will be stressful in that moment (and we understand!) but in the long run, being placed in these situations will help you learn to cope better with stress anytime, anywhere. It provides some practice.

While your life is unlikely to be in danger in any of these situations, your initial reaction may be to stress out as though it is. By tackling those little surprises and reversals, you come out of it not only alive but maybe even better for it. You can say to yourself, “Wow. I did it. If I can survive that, I can do anything!”

Later, when you return to the so-called Daily Grind, you’ll find things aren’t quite as complicated as you remembered; somehow, it seems there’s not quite so much at stake.

That means you have learned to cope, and this new mental attitude will prove to help you in all aspects of your life…anytime, anywhere. Travel, therefore, can not only reduce stress for a time, but even eliminate some of those stresses from our life for good!

3. You’ll Sleep Better

Along the same lines of making your own schedule, traveling gives you the time you may need to unwind and reset your sleep patterns. This one is on the same level as coping skills in terms of long-term benefit.

Our bodies are much less likely to handle stress appropriately when we aren’t getting enough sleep (source). Not having a strict schedule to stick to on a trip allows your body and mind to rest. Sleeping in a little longer in the morning, taking a few cat naps by the pool, or – like many countries – a culture-wide custom of taking an afternoon nap every day after lunch…

You'll Sleep Better

Not only will you have more time to sleep, but with the physical and mental energy you’ll be using during your daily outings, you’ll sleep longer and deeper. Plus, have you ever noticed how much better you sleep when you’ve spent the day in fresh air?

Finally, many trips you take can present more opportunities to spend time in nature and the outdoors. This will not only help you feel better physically and emotionally, but also will help you sleep deeper and longer, allowing your body to have that reset it may need!

4. New Foods Will Inspire a Healthy Diet

One huge advantage of traveling – especially outside of your home country – is you’ll get to try new food combinations and flavors that make eating healthy easier. Then, you’ll have the opportunity to discover new styles of food preparation you hadn’t known of before…

Maybe you’ll have more access to fresh (and different) fruits and vegetables. Maybe you’ll discover new spices that make healthy food taste even better. While there may be less exercise involved, the meals you enjoy while you travel can carry the same level of adventure.

Best of all, whatever happens on your culinary expeditions, you can take these new habits back home and implement them into you regular diet. You may not be able to stay in Cancun or Tahiti, but you can surely bring part of it back with you!

Are You Ready To Book Your Trip?

Traveling isn’t a luxury – it’s an investment. Depending on your individual circumstances, it may even be a necessity for your health and peace of mind.

You’ll find that the more often you’re able to plan a getaway – even a short one – the better you’ll feel both physically and mentally. The opportunities to exercise, de-stress, sleep in, and eat healthier are more than enough reasons why you should plan a trip today!

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