Jeez, guys, tell us something we didn’t already know.
The National Trust have just published a study which shows that people experience greater feelings of happiness and contentment from places than they do from ‘treasured objects’ like wedding rings and other sentimental items. Reminiscing about a destination we’ve made happy memories in can make us calm, and the research shows that places we’ve been hold more emotional significance in the human brain than even our most beloved possessions.
Previous studies have found that travel boosts cardiovascular and cognitive health, with people who manage to take a holiday each year less likely to die of heart disease, or develop high blood pressure and dementia, than people who don’t. Whether you’re setting off on a fit-and-healthy hiking trip to the great outdoors or basking on a beach in the sunshine, getting away from it all lowers levels of stress and anxiety – and the effects last long after we return home.
Everybody knows that things don’t reeeeally make you happy, even though we all get a little buzz off treating ourselves to something shiny and new on pay day. But next time you’re umming and ahhing over whether or not to book the next trip, remember it could be as good for your health as going Sober for October or hitting the gym.
(Disclaimer: if you’re drinking buckets of shifty vodka at the full moon party and eating deep-fried food every day while you’re away it might not be THAT great for your health… but you’ll still be more stress-free when you get back than you would if you’d been sat on the sofa for a week!)
Everyone who knows me knows I’m a big advocate of experiences over things, and there are plenty of other people out there extolling the virtues of spending your cash on a new adventure instead of something else to clutter up the house with.
It can be hard to coax yourself out of the house, let alone the country, when you’re feeling a bit wobbly and like the world is upside down. But if you can manage it, not only do you get the sense of achievement that comes with saying ‘Nothing can stop me! The world is my oyster! I’m a freakin’ explorer and everyone else is still sat at their desks!’ (…or things along those lines), you also get to broaden your horizons with new experiences, new food, new cultures and All Kinds Of Other Good Stuff.
It’s true that you can’t have a thick passport and a narrow outlook, and it’s also true that a change of scenery can soothe the soul. I’ve already listed a few of my favourite places in the world as well as offering up some tips on staying sane while you’re away (which led to me being featured in a great article from the American site Smarter Travel all about travelling with depression) but I can’t emphasise enough how beneficial travel can be.
If you’ve got any personal experiences of how travel has given you a boost or how a particular place is now the calm space you find in your head on a busy day, give me a shout in the comments below!