HealthTraveling stimulates the brain, reduces stress and is good for the heart...

    Traveling stimulates the brain, reduces stress and is good for the heart – here’s how

    Leaving alone or in a group is good for your health. Getting out of your comfort zone makes you more creative and promotes cognitive flexibility. A couple of trips a year also reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease

    Yes, travel. Finally returning to the world, no longer experiencing the feeling of being “prisoners”, as has happened to so many during the last two years: in the third summer since the beginning of pandemic, more and more people are starting to book a holiday more or less far from home. And it’s good news because traveling is good, we need it and even science has shown its many benefits. It is known, for example, that traveling reduces stress even if the break from everyday life is minimal: a long weekend of four days is enough to reduce the perception of stress up to five weeks later, according to a survey by Austrian researchers of a group of managers.


    Satisfaction and well-being, however, increase even before leaving home, because even alone starting to plan a trip feels good: it is a kind of anticipatory pleasure that helps to live everyday life better, while waiting for the holiday “reward”. But what is perhaps even more striking is the long-term effect of travel: Adam Galinsky, a social psychologist at Columbia University in New York, has conducted extensive research on the connection between travel and cognitive activity, discovering, for example, that walking around the world helps the brain to function better and makes it more creative. «Experiences made away from one’s daily life increase the
    cognitive flexibility
    the depth and integration of thought: they make us more capable of seeing and finding connections between very different elements and therefore favor “lateral” thinking, the one that comes out of the usual and is therefore more creative “, says Galinsky, who has studied for example the originality of the collections of the major fashion houses over twenty-one years in relation to the propensity to travel of the designers, discovering that the most open to contamination with other cultures, they are also the most innovative and creative ones. “The key lies precisely in immersing oneself in what one does not know, in adapting and confronting the different,” explains Galinsky. “Even living abroad for a long time can have a zero impact on creativity if you don’t get involved in the local culture, if you don’t open up to diversity”.

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    Opens the mind

    In short, one must not look for an Italian restaurant in Indonesia, but travel with an open mind; if we do, we get countless psychological advantages, as confirmed by Enrico Zanalda, president of the Italian Psychiatry Society: “The greatest benefits are obtained when we travel to another place that is very different from our usual context, but also” changing the air “in a less drastic way is always useful. Traveling, leaving your home always means question yourself a little and to the test, leaving the usual routine and relationships to confront other habits, other people: this in addition to enriching us as human beings helps us to make a sort of reset of our life, to see it in another light and also to understand how elsewhere issues that we may have experienced are tackled, providing us with ideas for change. Traveling, therefore, increases the ability to solve problems through new solutions and makes us more resilient ».

    It is important to let children travel

    It is so useful that you have to start doing it from an early age, according to the psychiatrist: “School trips also have this function: traveling does not only mean knowing new places and culturally enriching oneself, but also learning to get out of your comfort zone. Succeeding provides more tools to deal with life, plus it is a good “emotional gym”, for children and adults: sharing the good and bad moments that one experiences while traveling helps to get closer to each other, often creates an intimacy and a emotional closeness even with people who meet little, who will not see each other again or who are even strangers ».
    For this reason, it is also fine to go around the world alone: ​​there are those who fear to face a journey without company and those who love to take personal time and space to visit different places, but the important thing is to leave. Of course, a single or group trip is a different experience, as Zanalda specifies: «Some people always love to travel alone because they are unable to adapt and respond to the needs of others, a selfish trait that is not exactly positive; on the other hand, traveling alone, you are freer to experience and meet new people. A trip in company, on the other hand, basically requires an excellent ability to adapt to the needs of others ».

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    Overcoming fears

    No matter how, therefore, the essential thing is to travel and test yourself in doing it, trying to
    overcome your fears
    also because giving up on moving and perhaps even on holidays is not a good sign. “Not being able to take a time to disconnect from everyday life is not healthy,” explains Zanalda. “For physical well-being and mental equilibrium it is essential to know how to move away from responsibilities and work, those who cannot do it should ask themselves the reasons that prevent them from giving up. What you need most is the journey, because taking a vacation at home is not the same thing, you really can’t get out of the routine and have all the benefits that travel guarantees ».

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    The heart thanks

    It is therefore necessary to take breaks outside your own four walls, even short and close to home if for various reasons you cannot go far: the goal is to change the horizon at least a little and dedicate time to your favorite activities because, whatever they are , help psychological recovery when tired and under pressure. Any approach to travel is fine, from an organized tour for those who are afraid of the unexpected to unusual destinations for the most daring explorers, as long as it responds to the profound and universal need to get out of the ordinary for a while. Doing so is also good for your health: it has been shown, for example, that traveling a couple of times during the year reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease by up to 20-30 percent thanks to the limitation of stress and the recovery of psychological well-beingit also has an antidepressant effect. “True, many use travel almost as a ‘mood regulator’, as a way to feel better. Also for this reason, when our holidays are ruined for any reason, we suffer greatly, even more than we would be willing to rationally admit ”, concludes Zanalda.

    Source: Corriere della Sera

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