Are you the sun and sand sort of vacation person, or are you more of an adventure seeker? Do you take a vacation for the arts and culture or the natural wonders? Does your ideal vacation include night life and fine dining or solitude and peaceful reflection? Are you curious about different world cultures or are you happy staying close to home?
Regardless of the type of vacation you choose, you will receive some unexpected brain health benefits.
- Usually when we are on vacation we move differently and we move more. It might be as simple as walking more, whether you are strolling through local gift shops or hiking through a nature reserve. Very often a vacation also includes time swimming. Regular physical movement is one of the most beneficial activities for our brain. Sadly in our daily lives most of us don’t move enough to give our brain a good work out, unless you are diligent about following a regular exercise program.
- Vacations are fun! Fun is the juice that fuels your brain. When you are having fun your brain is more focused, your concentration is better and your memory improves. Part of what makes an activity fun is that we do it by choice. Spending the afternoon in at art gallery may bore you to death or it may excite you and stimulate your imagination. Chances are you would only choose the art gallery if in fact you enjoyed great works of art (unless it is a compromise with your traveling companion, in which case you may even enjoy it more than you thought).
- No matter what type of vacation you are on, there is usually built in time for rest. Whether it is a chance to wake up each day without an alarm clock, a lazy sun drenched snooze on the beach, or even catching a few zzz’s on a long flight, most vacations afford us extra time to sleep. Sleep deprivation in your day to day life seriously impairs your cognitive skills. When you are well rested you will think more clearly.
- Your vacation will provide your brain with some mental stimulation. I know the plan is to ‘get away’, but using a map or GPS gets your neurons firing. Your brain thrives on stimulation. It loves to solve puzzles, riddles or other people’s problems. Being on vacation gives your brain plenty of solvable problems. Whether you are searching for your hotel through busy streets in a foreign city or following a self-guided walking tour, you will need to interpret a map’s representation to help you navigate to your destination. It is sometimes frustrating, but always brain stretching.
- While a home cooked meal made from scratch is the preferable choice for your brain’s health, the reality is that for many of us a home cooked meal is a frozen dinner thrown in the microwave. When on vacation you may find yourself sampling the local cuisine. Provided you are not at a fast food restaurant, the food at these establishments often includes local produce and may be second only to the real home cooked meal.
So, take a vacation for your brain health. With a host of brain benefits these 5 are built into any type of vacation you choose. After your vacation your brain will be relaxed and stimulated, entertained and nourished. Your brain will be fit to return home to your regular routine with renewed clarity, focus and concentration.