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Traveling Can Be The Best Medicine

Traveling is one of the great ways to unwind and escape a hectic job or semester; even if it’s only for a few days. Getting to see a new part of the country or the world can give you a much-needed break from a high-stress environment while simultaneously providing a new outlook on your own situation.

Research even shows that there are various physical health benefits to traveling.

According to research recently conducted by The Global Commission on Aging and Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, cited in December 2013 by the Los Angeles Times, “[a]fter only a day or two, 89 percent of respondents saw significant drops in stress.” The study also showed that people who don’t travel often have a much higher risk of heart disease.

If the stress is really getting to you and you feel like the walls of your cubicle (or the campus library) are beginning to close in, getting away from it all is probably the best thing to do.

Whether it’s a spontaneous road-trip to Florida or a long-since planned backpacking voyage through South America, these kinds of trips give us the space we need while also presenting us with fun things to do.

Just a few weeks ago over my winter break, for instance, I took a trip to London and Paris with my cousin and grandparents. I went sightseeing, ate at amazing restaurants, visited museums and wandered aimlessly through the narrow cobblestone roads of Europe.

The trip came at a perfect time for me

Right after the end of a long, stressful and overall challenging semester at school.

Taking 10 days to fly across the pond and explore a city I’d never been before (London) turned out to be a perfect way to bounce back. All the stresses and complications of school faded into the distance when our plane took off. I was able to spend more than a week focusing on which palace to tour, what restaurant to try out and which bars to visit with my cousin once my grandparents had gone to bed.

When we got back to the States 10 days later, I was rested, relaxed and in a much better mood than I had been when we left.

I feel getaways are essential to maintaining your sanity, so I recommend taking advantage of any free days you have. Make the most of them by planning something with a friend.

Not everyone has the resources for international travel, but spontaneous day trips can be just as beneficial — maybe a train ride to the nearest big city or a quick drive to the closest beach.

Aside from the break it offers, traveling can also help you gain a new outlook on some of the work-related or social problems you might be dealing with at home. After getting away from it all, if only for a day just to unwind and get a breath of fresh air, you can approach familiar tasks with a new perspective.

Traveling opens your mind to new ways of thinking. The more exotic the trip, that is to say, the more you’re forced to step outside your comfort zone, the more your perspective can be broadened. You can learn to appreciate different cultures, philosophies and people who think differently than you.

So next time you’re feeling like you need to get away from it all, do it. Hop on a plane, a boat, a car or your bike and go see something new; it might just be the best medicine you can get.

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If you are in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a free, 24-hour hotline at 1.800.273.8255. If your issue is an emergency, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.