Countless words have been (and probably will be) written about us being the best versions of ourselves, being healthier and happier. When it comes to traveling, how does it affect our psychology exactly? Is it purely a matter of seeing something new and getting the thrills? Or does it have to do with human interaction in its more unrefined and genuine version?
Mental well-being is equally important to physical well-being. At least that’s what ancient Greeks believed.
Olga Tsatsani, neuropsychologist argues that
"the association between vacations and psychological health is not only psychological but mostly a biological matter”.
More specifically, vacations are generally considered to be a source of happiness and essential for quality of life. Research has shown that the benefits of holidays are plentiful including not only physical, but most importantly psychological advantages as well! It is widely known that having a break off your daily routine provides opportunities for adventure, a chance to relax and unwind, expand one’s perspective, promote creativity and life satisfaction, strengthen family bonds or gain memorable experiences.
Indeed, traveling will boost your self-confidence and make you challenge everything, especially when you choose to live in the moment. You will also end up with more appreciation as you re-evaluate your life. Sometimes you need to go a little outside your comfort zone to remind yourself to count your blessings. It is also necessary to ditch the everyday routine to avoid stagnation and what better way to do it that go someplace you’ve never been before.
Although scientists have constantly pointed out that getting away has a positive impact on mental health, only recently has been proved that even short-term breaks can actually boost our biological health. In particular, researchers from Icahn School of Medicine, University of California and Harvard, provided evidence of a so-called “Vacation Effect”. According to this, it was found that even six days away can cause changes on our genes function, which moderates stress, boost the immune system and decrease levels of proteins linked to dementia and depression. More importantly, these effects can still be observed even one month later. In other words, holidays can cause a beneficial suppression of stress-related responses by changing our genes activity and this effect lasts even for weeks.
In addition to these findings, due to the decreased stress and burn out resulting from intense daily routine, researchers have constantly indicated higher levels of job involvement, cognitive flexibility and creativity to employees after short-term holidays, especially when the latter include some kind of meditation activities or techniques.
Nevertheless, research has shown that on vacation many people stay connected to their work, and as such, they never really escape from the pressures of work-life in order to receive the benefits of “de-stressing”.
Choose to go on a work or social media detox and enjoy the pleasures of discovery or treat yourself to some deserved “me” time. You can also master new skills! Opt for a cooking class or a wine tasting or something even more unexpected like a jewelry workshop. A sunny country, like Greece, that provides loads of vitamin D will work wonders on your mood! Smile, wear your nicest attitude and you’ll soon realize that people will smile Fright back at ya! It is easier to make new friends while traveling especially if you let go of such social fears. The healthy glow and aura you will gain will be the proof of that.
Experiences are more satisfying than things, they are the new luxury and recalling those happy memories and experiences is priceless. It instantly puts you in a better mood, it makes you a social hit as it cultivates your storytelling skills and it sustains an amazing feeling.
So, tell your inner travel bug, “bite me”
Olga Tsatsani, Phd Cand. at Peiraeus University, Cognitive Neuroscientist, UX Researcher
MSc. Clinical & Cognitive Neuropsychology
Travel ideas & local insights that will keep you always up to date.