Why Travelling is Beneficial for Cognitive Development
17 de August de 2021
17 de August de 2021
Who hasn’t dreamed about being Jules Verne’s Phileas Fogg in his novel ‘Around the World in 80 Days’? New unimaginable places, meeting totally different cultures, living unforgettable experiences… Travelling is so enriching that it becomes medicine for a lot of people. But, scientifically speaking, does it help our body and our mind? Is it really medicine?
Our brains can change throughout life — this is called neuroplasticity. Thanks to the different stimuli it’s subject to, it’s capable of creating new neurons and new connections between them. But, in order for this to happen, it needs to train by facing things that are new and varied, but also new challenges. Three things that, as it happens, we can find travelling.
Here are 4 reasons why travelling improves your cognitive development and your productivity:
Learning and Activating the Brain
Routine can be one of our greatest enemies. When we travel, we take ourselves and our brains out of our comfort zone. We face new stimuli and challenges, a series of changes that escape our normality and that cause our brain to activate all of its capacities. Our attention levels, the capacity to solve problems and the development of social abilities increase significantly.
We are also forced, at times, to learn new words from a language that isn’t ours, as well as new streets and ways around the city, new flavours… When we travel —especially if it’s to a different country— we’re forcing the brain to accept everything it perceives and developing its learning capacity.
James Webb Young, an advertising executive from the US, said in his book ‘A Technique for Producing Ideas’: “If you want to have new ideas, stop thinking about them”. James noticed that, often, the best ideas come to our minds while carrying out some other unrelated activity. Today, we can talk about this in a more scientific way. ‘Cognitive Flexibility’ is the ability that our minds have to bring together thoughts that come from two different concepts —something that is crucial for creativity— and it has a lot to do with exposing ourselves to new places and experiences. Opening the mind to new cultures and getting to know different points of views help us think of different solutions for the same problem.
Also, numerous studies confirm the relation between traveling and creativity. Studies such as the one carried out by the Kellogg School of Management from Illinois, where researchers came to the conclusion that students who had had an experience abroad found it easier to solve complicated creative problems. As for examples of works of art that were conceived outside their home city, we can mention Igor Stravinsky or Ernest Hemingway, whose work was carried out mostly abroad.
Reducing Stress and Increasing Productivity
The American Institute of Stress estimated that stress causes the United States’ industry to lose 300.000 million dollars every year. According to the Spanish Society for the Study of Anxiety and Stress, in Spain, 59% of workers suffer from problems linked to this pathology. Nowadays, exhaustion is considered to be an epidemic in work and health centres. That’s why, when we hear “I need holidays”, it’s very likely that we should pay attention because, sometimes, in order to continue, it’s necessary to stop for a bit.
According to Shimi Kang, a Doctor in the neuroscience of happiness and health, offering the brain a time off helps its recovery. And, what better way of disconnecting from routine than going on a trip? Leaving work and worries behind, relaxing and enjoying the present time will help us come back to the office with a full battery. Once again, it’s not just us saying this. It's science. According to a study from Surrey University, in the UK, just planning a trip shows feelings of happiness and helps reduce stress.
Travelling generates a lot of positive emotions that help us strengthen our neuron network.
We can easily understand that the muscles in our body need exercise in order to stay healthy and toned, but did you know that the brain also needs training? “It’s very important to train and stimulate the brain because, with time, a bigger number of connections implies a bigger cognitive reserve, which allows our brain to be more resistant to deterioration that come with age or the symptoms from neurological diseases”, says Dr José Manuel Moltó, spokesperson for the Spanish Neurology Society.
Travelling, delving into new cultures and living the whole experience will not only improve our creativity, recover our productivity or activate our brain; according to the Global Coalition on Aging, this will also help delay the apparition of brain diseases like Alzheimer.
So, now you know. If you’re looking for an excuse to go on a trip, here you have 4 scientifical approved reasons. Do like Hemingway…. escape towards some mojitos and improve your productivity.