What is it that we love so much about going away (aside from time away from work!) and how does holidaying affect our wellbeing?
It's that time of year again - the ultimate playtime - holidays are booked, swimwear is packed and guide books have been bought. This month, I'm exploring what is it that we love so much about going away (aside from time away from work!) and how holidaying affects both our wellbeing and our subconscious ability to keep learning while we’re having fun.
'Keep learning' is a jewel in the 5-ways-to-wellbeing's crown. Without it, we stagnate unable to grow our knowledge and satisfy our curiosity about the world. But how do our holiday experiences influence our innate, yet subconscious, desire to keep learning? Let's look into this a little more...
I want you to shut your eyes and remember a great past holiday you've had and how you felt on that holiday - How did you spend your days? Did you explore the local area? What food did you try? Who did you connect with? What was the culture like? Did you pick up any of the language? Most of us have learned at least one new thing whilst on holiday - we enjoy this because any form of exploration stimulates our minds and imaginations, opening us up to new possibilities, especially when we are having fun on holiday. Our wellbeing lives in these moments.
We can enhance our learning on holiday in many ways - here are our top three: (data obtained by Talking Finances Ltd)
1. Partake in new experiences - read a new book, explore the locality, try the local cuisine.
2. Make time to relax and unwind - making space in our overcrowded brains for fun thoughts, that wonderful feeling of having nothing to do. Once we have that space in our brains, we are able to see the beauty of our new surroundings and open ourselves up to new adventures.
3. Adapt to our surroundings - discovering another country's culture, their food, their language and their customs.
Of course, some of the best holidays are spent here in the UK where there is plenty to do and countless ways to boost our learning through play. Our holiday enjoyment also comes from being able to play whilst away from the pressures of home. Playing is doing anything you enjoy; sport, board games, chess, completing puzzles, telling jokes, cooking, painting, going for walks, spending time with your pet, even flirting is a form of play. Play does not even have to be a specific activity; it can simply be a state of mind; feeling playful is great for both yours and others’ wellbeing – when you’re playful, you exude a wellness that infects those around you. When you play, there are moments filled with fun, and you rediscover who you really are.
Looking back, my fondest holiday memories all involve some form of learning - in Italy; befriending locals and learning useful phrases, in India; exploring the countryside and sampling the amazing array of unusual foods and flavours... I could go on, but you get the picture. When you reminisce about your favourite holidays, I guarantee your memories will reveal moments of learning on every trip, without realising it, all whilst simply ‘playing’.
It's common knowledge that children learn through play so why shouldn't we? Somewhere between childhood and adulthood, the majority of adults stop playing. There are many benefits to playing and having fun that go deeper than just enjoying ourselves. When we're at home and we find ourselves with some leisure time, we are more likely to zone out in front of the TV or computer screen than engaging in fun play like we did as children. We've lost our way. We NEED to play and enjoy it because when we do, we:
1. Relieve stress
2. Improve brain function
3. Stimulate our imagination
4. Develop better social skills
5. Help to heal emotional wounds
6. Learn cooperation with others
7. Boost creativity
8. Trigger feel-good endorphins
9. Foster positivity
Without play, we cannot keep learning and without learning, we upset the balance of our personal wellbeing. So, let’s get playing whether it’s at home or away because as the evidence suggests, the more we play when we’re on holiday, the greater and more memorable our overall experience will be.