When was the last time you traveled abroad? Traveling for business is one thing, but I’m talking about packing your bags, logging out of your email account and disconnecting from your normal routine for a week or more.
Traveling the world isn’t just fun and exciting; there’s ample research to suggest it’s highly beneficial for your physical, mental and emotional health as well.
According to a joint study from the Global Commission on Aging and Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, in partnership with the U.S. Travel Association, travelingactually keeps you healthier. The study found that women who vacation at least twice a year show a significantly lower risk of suffering a heart attack than those who only travel every six years or so.
The same is true for men. Men who do not take an annual vacation show a 20 percent higher risk of death and 30 percent greater risk of heart disease.
Although missing a connecting flight or losing baggage in a foreign airport is sure to boost your anxiety, traveling has been scientifically proven to lower stress levels, and rather dramatically.
According to one study, three days after taking a vacation, travelers report feeling less anxious, more rested and in a better mood. Interestingly, these benefits tend to linger for weeks after the trip has ended.
“Foreign experiences increase both cognitive flexibility and depth and integrativeness of thought, the ability to make deep connections between disparate forms,”explains Adam Galinsky, a professor at Columbia Business School who hasauthored a number of studiesthat investigate the concrete links between creativity and international travel.
Travel alone isn’t enough, however. Galinsky has found that international travelers have to be purposeful about engaging.