When we feel bored, or tired or life has become too monotonous, for many the main way to shake things up is a change of scenery by going on vacation. But vacations aren’t just about taking a break from work, having a drink at lunch, and taking lots of new pictures.
There is a growing body of scientific evidence that travel helps stimulate our brains and even makes us a better person. If you’ve ever felt like you were starting to feel better after traveling, you were right. Experienced writers at https://collegepaperwritingservice.org/ will tell you how to travel properly.
Why Too Much Work is Bad for Your Brain
In many countries, a growing percentage of workers are giving up vacation time, preferring to work nonstop. The reasons are clear: in conditions of growing uncertainty and competition, people are afraid that if they do not demonstrate to the management their loyalty and desire to work non-stop, there will be someone who will still be ready for it.
Against this background, scientists began to investigate the question: what happens to the body if you do not rest? It turned out (logically) that nothing good. For example, data from the famous Framingham experiment (the world’s largest study of cardiovascular disease, going on 70 years) showed that women who take a vacation once every 6 years or less face a double risk of heart attack or other fatal heart problems compared with those who rest twice a year.
Working a lot is bad for us in principle. By giving 10-11 hours a day to our careers, we increase our chances of facing cardiovascular disease, depression, and other effects on the body.
In parallel, evidence began to accumulate that rest in the form of a trip somewhere has the opposite effect. This is a case where what is fun and enjoyable, also brings benefits. Part of this effect of a vacation can be explained by the rest itself and the reduction of stress levels, but not only that.
The Brain is Like a Jungle
According to Paul Nussbaum, a clinical neuropsychologist at the University of Pittsburgh, travel has its own, independent effect on the body. As a “restorative” activity for the brain, it can help delay the development of conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Anything can be new: language, smells, climate, length of daylight, and so on. Once in an unfamiliar environment, the brain begins to grow more dendrites, neuronal spurs that receive information from other neurons. The more branched the dendrite tree is, the more input impulses a neuron can receive, and thus, the more information it can process. In other words, the brain becomes more powerful. It literally starts to look like a jungle.
If creativity is important to you in work and life in general, travel and a change of scenery should be your friends. Writers and other creative people have long used this trick: traveling and moving from country to country brought inspiration to Ernest Hemingway, Mark Twain, and many others.
Now the influence of travel on creativity can be considered scientifically confirmed. Here again, the novelty of the environment matters. “The experience of being in another country increases cognitive flexibility, depth of thought, the ability to put the big picture together from details and to see connections between different categories of things,” says American social psychologist Adam Galinsky, known for his research into the nature of leadership and power.
But do not confuse traveling with constantly being on the road. It is important to find a balance: work in one place, travel somewhere else. And do not forget about rest and sleep – it is during the dream that our brains process new information, make connections and come up with ideas. When it comes to finding reliable essay writing services online, do your research and read write my essays review before making a decision.
A New Personality
If existing research is to be believed, a small and short-lived effect can be obtained even if you don’t go anywhere at all: a group of Australian scientists found that just thinking about being in nature makes the mind clearer.
In an experiment with 150 students, they found that after looking at pictures of greenery for 40 seconds, they were better able to maintain concentration and made fewer mistakes on boring, attention-demanding tasks. This tells us how important it is to disengage at least briefly from routine activity.
But, apparently, the longer a trip somewhere lasts, the greater the impact it can have. For example, an interesting publication by German psychologists Franz Neyer and Julia Zimmermann shows that living in another country can literally make a new person out of us. Zimmermann and Neyer followed 527 students over the course of an academic year, some of whom went to study abroad for a semester, some for a year, and some of whom continued to study in their home country.
Participants were tested to determine the “big five” personality traits. This is a popular model in psychology, which suggests that a person has five relatively independent characteristics that make up his or her personality:
- Openness to new experiences (curiosity, active imagination)
- Conscientiousness (conscientiousness)
- Extroversion (and introversion at the other end of the scale)
- Benevolence (the ability to come to an agreement and treat others warmly)
- Neuroticism (the opposite pole – emotional stability).
The scientists found that those who lived for long periods of time in another country had changes in three of the “Big Five” traits: openness to experience, friendliness, and emotional stability (with a simultaneous decrease in the neurotic component). For those who did not travel anywhere, these personality traits remained the same over the year.
These findings echo the results obtained by Nussbaum. When a person enters an unfamiliar culture and begins interacting with people, his brain tries to adapt to the change as quickly as possible. The neural connections involved in this process are strengthened, and later on, it becomes easier for the person to accept new experiences, find compromises and control his or her own emotions.
Traveling pays other psychological dividends, too. According to Immordino-Young, the more diverse cross-cultural experiences we have, the more clearly we see our own values and beliefs.
On travel websites, one often reads that vacations help “cure depression” or alleviate its symptoms. In fact, this is not entirely true: depression is a serious disorder, and even the most ideal trip cannot be a cure for it. But vacations do help lift your spirits.
According to surveys, after a vacation, up to 80% of people feel more energetic and positive, and 70% feel less stressed. And on average, those who regularly take vacations feel happier than those who neglect them.
- In addition to external and surmountable factors, it is difficult to think of a reason not to travel. Switching from routine to relaxation is beneficial to one’s physical and mental health.
- Traveling to new places allows our brain to “power up”, that is, it helps it process information more efficiently. Thanks to this, a man better finds the relationship between different phenomena and finds unobvious solutions.
- Beware: a long trip can make you better. Those who have spent several months or more in another country become more open to new experiences and are more adaptable and emotionally stable.
- Traveling can also make you a more whole person: encountering a foreign culture helps you realize your own values and beliefs.
How to Travel Properly
The main advice, which makes sense to remember, is repeated by everyone and always: while traveling to a new place, be sure to communicate with other people, try to understand the local traditions, taste the cuisine, and so on.
Reputable scientific publications allow us to understand why it is important to travel: encountering unfamiliar situations stimulates the brain, takes it out of the mundane daily routine and makes it work more actively. Traveling is the perfect way to break out of familiar scenery and give food to the mind.