WHAT HAPPENS TO YOUR BRAIN WHILE TRAVELING?
“TRAVELING – IT LEAVES YOU SPEECHLESS, THEN TURNS YOU INTO A STORYTELLER.” – IBN BATTUTA
It’s common knowledge that travel changes your personality and greatly adds to your life experience. But did you know that it can also stimulate your brain? Many of us may have actually known this anecdotally, but recent studies have found that traveling actually changes your brain chemistry and physiology. These changes usually occur and are more pronounced with frequent or prolonged travel.
Here are three key things that happen to your brain the more you travel:
1) Creativity Boost
This is linked to the fact that new sounds, smells, sights and languages stimulate your brain’s synapses leading to the formation of new neural pathways and connections. According to a recent study in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, this leads to an increase in “idea flexibility (e.g. the ability to solve problems in multiple ways), increases awareness of underlying connections and associations, and helps overcome functional fixedness”. All of these are components of creativity.
2) Happiness Boost
Jetting off somewhere far away, relaxing on the beach, chilling around the city blocks or enjoying the splendor of nature leads to a surge of good chemicals in your brain. For example, Dopamine and Serotonin ,which are involved in your brain’s reward system and sense of accomplishment respectively,are released when you finally get to see that sunset you’ve only seen in pictures before, or take a picture with that famous landmark you’ve been dreaming of. Finally, the fact that physical movement is inevitably linked with travel is almost a guarantee that you will get a nice Endorphin high going.
3) More Emotionally Stable
Studies have found that while going out of your comfort zone leads to an initial adrenaline rush, it actually increases your emotional stability and adaptability to change. Travelers were found to have expanded social networks, higher openness to experiences and lower reactiveness to day-to-day changes, all traits linked to high emotional stability.
So next time you get a chance to take a trip anywhere, take it! Not only will it make you more experienced, it will also give you a revitalized brain.
By Nora Badawy
Nora is a Pharmacist, writer, crazy cat lady and sarcasm extraordinaire. When she is not working in the lab or writing, she spends her days drinking coffee, watching series, reading or daydreaming. Her mission is world domination through the written word.