Through the course of existence I go through life shifts. Life shifts are typically an unmistakable indication telling me that transformation is about to happen. Most of the time they are inspiring and helpful but some are challenging. These ups and downs eventually wear on me, I start to feel moody, tired, and just plain overwhelmed.
Turns out this is not abnormal but when left unchecked it can lead to stress and depression. “The stress of work and daily demands can distract us from what we find to be actually meaningful and interesting,” says Dr. Tamara McClintock Greenberg, a San Francisco-based clinical psychologist and author of Psychodynamic Perspectives on Aging and Illness.
I learned one the best ways to keep this in check is to take some time away, to completely upend my schedule and travel. On vacation I let go of my routines, in fact, it is the perfect excuse to not return messages or phone calls, to be completely selfish and do what I want to do. I wake up when my eyes open, I sleep when I’m tired and I eat when I’m hungry.
Doesn’t that sound nice? Well it should. Experts agree taking a break from the daily hustle and bustle is essential for your mind to relax, recharge and rejuvenate.
In a 2009 study, Canadian researchers Joudrey and Wallace reported that “active” leisure such as taking vacations helped to buffer or ameliorate the job stress among a sample of almost 900 lawyers. British researcher Scott McCabe noted that vacations’ “personal benefits have been found to include: rest and recuperation from work; provision of new experiences leading to a broadening of horizons and the opportunity for learning and intercultural communication.
Apart from the obvious fact that you don’t have to go to work (and can legit eat pizza for breakfast), travel gives you the opportunity to step away from the daily grind. The new events and experiences help rewire your brain, hence boosting your mood and self-confidence. According to a Cornell University study, even the anticipation of a trip can increase your happiness substantially, even more than the anticipation of acquiring something tangible, like a new car.
But the key to traveling well is to fill your days with “enjoyable” things, even if it means being somewhere beautiful and doing nothing at all.
Cover photo: Hannah Brohfman at the Cape Weligama Resort in Sri Lanka (May 2018).