Want to be happier, healthier and richer in life (alas, not in your pockets)? The answer is, you guessed it, travel. Scientists have proven that living out your wanderlust is not only amazing in terms of life experiences, it actually improves your brain health...
Why is brain health important?
Did you know that as you age your brain loses elasticity, which means it gets harder and harder for it to make connections, leading to loss of memory, low energy and the ability to learn new things? In the last few years health professionals have started stressing the importance of maintaining good brain health, as well as physical health. The good news is there are many ways to boost your brain health and make sure your squishy grey thought maker is in its best shape.
And the best news is that travel is one of them…
How travel makes your brain better
And the good news just keeps on coming… there isn’t just one way travel can change your brain health! There are in fact several important changes that happen in your brain just by getting out there and exploring the world. Studies found a dramatic increase in the brain creating new paths of thinking after a trip, leading to more creative problem solving and artistic endeavours.
“Foreign experiences increase both cognitive flexibility and depth and integrativeness of thought - the ability to make deep connections between disparate forms,” - Professor Adam Galinsky, Columbia Business School.
What that means in layman’s terms is that because you have to be flexible when globetrotting because of hurdles like language barriers, time constraints and planning, your brain starts rewiring itself to make all this new decision making easier. Smart right?
Another thing travel will bring the old brain box is increased confidence. Associate professor of education and psychology at the University of Southern California, Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, found in her studies that cross-cultural experiences have the potential to strengthen a person’s sense of self and lead to more confidence in an individual.
“What a lot of psychological research has shown now is that the ability to engage with people from different backgrounds than yourself, and the ability to get out of your own social comfort zone, is helping you to build a strong and acculturated sense of your own self” - Mary Helen Immordino-Yang
You hear a lot of people say they “found” themselves overseas, and it looks like that could be true! As you discover more of the world you become more sure of your place in it and more confident in what you can offer others.
ALSO READ: 6 WAYS TRAVEL HELPS TO GROW SELF-CONFIDENCE
Besides increased faith in yourself, studies also showed that travelling brings increased faith in others, and optimism has been found to be one of the keys to ageing well. “We found that when people had experiences travelling to other countries it increased what’s called generalised trust, or their general faith in humanity” Galinsky says. “When we engage in other cultures, we start to have experience with different people and recognise that most people treat you in similar ways. That produces an increase in trust.” Some may argue that trust is a matter of the heart but there’s no denying that being relaxed, open and hopeful towards the world makes your brain feel at ease too. Less stress = happier days.
In fact, studies have shown travel can even change your personality, especially if it’s for extended periods of time. Julia Zimmermann and Franz Neyer published their findings in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology after finding that people returning from trips had shown an increase in being open to new experiences, were better able to get along with others and were even more emotionally stable when compared to how they were before the trip.
The results are in: good brain health 100% positively impacts your life
The stats don’t lie! Good brain health (and all your fond travel memories) will help you keep a sharp mind as you enter old age, have a happier outlook and better resilience in the face of change. So what are you waiting for – get booking that dream trip (and we know just where to go to do that…).