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The Perfect Way to Reduce Your Stress: Engaging Your Senses Through Travel

The Perfect Way to Reduce Your Stress: Engaging Your Senses Through Travel

Living through uncertain times has left many of us with higher stress and anxiety levels compared to before. Stress has become an ever-present, inescapable part of our lives that more often, we end up living with it. We all know that stress is counterproductive, so what can we do about it?

A good start is understanding that you can manage your stress. Be aware of your stressors and make stress management an indispensable part of your lifestyle. Take note of proven stress-reducing techniques.  Applying these to your lifestyle indicates that you are taking the steps towards wellness.

There are several evidence-based techniques to help improve your well-being. But often, they all boil down to these two principles: 

  1. investing more in experiences instead of material things; and 
  2. savoring these experiences and moments.

How and why do these techniques work? These reduce stress because they help the mind stay focused on positivity. By default, your mind wanders aimlessly, and a wandering mind typically goes off to dark places. This leads to you feeling anxious and stressed. Paying more attention to wellness and positivity, and investing in experiences, lets your mind become more engaged and activated to welcome and appreciate new things. The satisfaction you feel from your positive experiences also has a lasting, more enduring effect, compared to spending on material things.

So what better way to cope with stress? Vacation. Travel. Getaway.

Incorporating vacations into your lifestyle is a great way to combine these two stress-reducing principles. During travel, you can further cultivate a stress-free mind and body by harnessing the power of your senses. You need to savor each moment of your travel by mindfully recognizing its multi-sensory facets.

Here’s why travel is so good for reducing your stress and improving your well-being:

Travel is Conducive to Savoring (yes, literally!)

How can you not forget the mouthwatering meals you have on vacation? A ripe and juicy watermelon, the mix of a sweet and tangy dressing on a garden salad, the fall-off-the-bone barbecue ribs, the crunch of delicious deep-fried chicken sambal, the array of seafood cooked in butter and herbs, capping off a meal with the perfect chocolate truffle. When you travel, you are likely to be fully in the moment, allowing yourself to enjoy and appreciate your meals more.

Going on vacation is the perfect way to indulge in food without any guilt. The food you eat not only nourishes your body but also lets you deepen your knowledge and appreciation of the place. The experience of trying unique flavors leaves a mark in your memory and provides you with comforting thoughts long after the vacation. Another stress-reducing benefit of food is how it brings people together. Sharing meals is the perfect way to bond with the people you are with.

Take Travel as an Auditory Adventure

By being mindful and intentional about what you absorb through listening, you can initiate a mood, cultivate learning, and build connections. The best part is that your auditory adventures like listening to music, talking to people, or delighting in nature’s raw symphonies are often inexpensive and accessible. 

Before your travel, create a dedicated playlist for your vacation to get you in the right mood. You can go from full-on upbeat tunes for active adventures or a more laidback selection perfect for a relaxing getaway. Sometimes it only takes a good playlist to turn idle waiting time into a window for relaxation. There are also meditation apps that you can check out for your travel. 

Being exposed to your travel destination’s local language makes way for great learning too! Even if the language in your travel destination is the same one you speak, being observant of a fresh vocabulary can take your mind off stressful thoughts. Another sensory delight is experiencing the local music scene. Enjoy a night of jamming by the beach. Dine-in restaurants that showcase local bands. Check for cultural performances that feature musical presentations.

Why are conversations during vacation time more memorable and impactful? Because we build better connections through active listening. Perhaps because you are far from your usual distractions, or the environment is more relaxed, being on vacation has a way of naturally allowing you to listen in more closely to the people you are with. Whether with locals or with your travel companions, being present through listening is a key element in creating meaningful conversations. When you are intentional about being your best self through listening, you learn more, and you are also able to give more.

Travel Activates the Soothing Aspects of Touch

Savoring tactile sensations is a great way to melt off stressful thoughts. On vacation, there are tons of ways to get the soothing benefits of touch. Hydrotherapy or immersing in water has inherent stress-relief properties. Taking a dip in a pool, soaking in a tub, or basking in ocean water are reliable ways to help you let go of stressful thoughts. You can also nurture positive feelings by going for a sunbathing session, feeling the sand or grass between your toes, getting a massage, or wearing comfortable clothes.

Travel Refreshes and Soothes us Through the Power of Smell

The popularity of aromatherapy and essential oils is a testament to the power of scents to help you de-stress. Remember how the comforting scent of a freshly cleaned hotel room gets your mood up, excited for all the good things that you will experience in the coming days? Once you go outside, you will be delighted by all sorts of scents that will invigorate your spirit.  When having a vacation in a place surrounded by nature, stress relief through olfactory sensations becomes accessible. The smell of seawater, fresh air, fragrant flowers, and fresh fruits. Savoring these pleasant smells allow you to inhale positivity and exhale toxicity.

Travel Opens your Eyes to a Visual Spectacle

Traveling opens your eyes to new sights, and your mind is nurtured through the sights you see.

Nature-filled vacation spots often lend a relaxing feeling.  Allow yourself to melt into the moment by resting your eyes on the horizon, seeing the vast stretch of the ocean touch the sky. After you enjoy the milieu, take time to feast on the smaller individual details that are unique in your surroundings. Flowers and fruits that are abundant in the place, animals that are endemic to that area. Unplug from your screens and enjoy a day of appreciating the captivating images that are unique to your travel destination.

Travel destinations with historical landmarks and cultural sites are also a great way to nurture the mind through imagery. Set time for a museum tour, visit an art gallery or take a stroll around town.  Creativity sparks from the new shapes, colors, and patterns that you see.  You can intensify your learning by asking locals or tour guides or reading up on more information about the meaning of the unique images you have observed in the vacation spot.

Investing in experiences is not only beneficial during the actual event. It gives you a positive boost while planning and anticipating the event. It also provides you with an array of happy memories that you can always go back to. The thought of travel and positive experiences will boost your mood, lessen your mind wandering, and increase gratitude.

So the next time you feel that you are drowning with stress, go plan that next trip. Welcome, all the awesome things you want to do. And when you’re finally on your getaway, savor those experiences to the fullest.

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