By: Jamie Strand (, July 2018

Do you ever feel like you’re stuck in a hamster wheel, going around and around, accomplishing the same things (or nothing) over and over? Sometimes, a change in environment is just the ticket to give you a new outlook and improve your performance. Here are just a few of the many reasons why travel affects your mental health – this means you should actually use those vacation days that are piling up!

Enhances Creativity

Foreign experiences out of your normal environment increase your cognitive functions and your ability to make connections between various pieces of information. The key to getting a real creative boost is to immerse yourself in the culture of the locale you’re visiting. The more open minded and receptive you are, the more new ways of creative thinking you will be open to.

Reduces Stress and Boosts Happiness

Traveling has also been shown to reduce stress in your life (assuming you make all your flights, of course). When you are on vacation, the time off can reduce your anxiety, help you get more rest and improve your mood, all of which contribute to lower stress levels. And let’s face it – how can you sit on a beach with your toes in the sand, hear the waves washing in, and still feel stressed?

Your improved mood can give you a boost in happiness as well. You’re away from work and the everyday responsibilities of life, so you’ll naturally be less worried and more carefree. Studies have shown that happiness actually starts while you’re planning your trip, so you’re getting double the benefit!

Strengthens Relationships

Sharing a vacation experience with your significant other can strengthen your relationship as well. You’ll grow closer as you share your interests and goals, you’ll enjoy quality time and new experiences together, and you may even reignite a romantic spark between you. It’s entirely possible you’ll also have to work together to overcome unexpected obstacles or unplanned interruptions. Working through these things will give you a renewed appreciation for your partner’s attitude and skills.

Focus on Fitness and Health

Because exercise is so effective at clearing the mind, consider a vacation focused squarely on fitness. Here are a few examples of fitness destinations that will help you decide what kinds of activities you want to work into your trip:

  • Hilton Head Health
  • New Life Hiking Spa
  • Momentum River Expedition

If you want to get even more exotic, try trekking and bodyboarding in Costa Rica, sand-dune running in Zanzibar or skiing in the Alps. If all else fails, you can at least hit the hotel gym or go for a walk, no matter where your vacation takes you. Not only does travel clear your brain, it can improve your overall health as well. Studies show travel can lead to a decreased risk of heart attack and depression, along with increased brain health.

Focus on Gratitude

There’s nothing like travel to open your eyes to how fortunate you are. Experiencing different cultures helps you realize all the things in your life you have to be thankful for, and gratitude is one of the best traits of all. In fact, showing more gratitude will help you live a happier and healthier life as you reflect on your travel experiences.

Taking a vacation may seem like a luxury, but it’s really a necessity. Make the most of your days off by coming back with a clear mind and a full heart, ready to take on whatever the world throws at you.

Photo from Unsplash