Boosting your health through travel ... even when it's from your couch
Travel is wonderful in so many ways and a change of pace and place does us good. Sadly, at a time when we can't go much further than our own front doors, more than ever many of us desperately need a break and a boost to our physical and mental health.
That got us thinking. When we travel, we learn, often from simply experiencing new cultures. So we wondered: what health practices and beliefs might we borrow from wellness around the world to help take care of ourselves and each other? Here are just a few. Some we can try without even leaving home and all, without leaving town.
From Denmark, the concept of Hygge: creating a sense of comfort, togetherness and wellbeing. Think staying inside, cozy and warm, candlelight or morning light, comfort food and conversation with people who make you smile.
From Norway, the opposite of staying inside: Friluftsliv - the ancient Nordic philosophy that celebrates nature. No need for high end resorts or extreme sports. This is spending time outdoors in an uncomplicated way. Hiking, vigorous or meandering, sitting by the water in summer or snowshoeing in winter if that appeals, maybe birdwatching from your balcony if not. Urban, rural or wild, the point is to open your door, step outside, take a breath of fresh air, and simply enjoy nature.
The concept of Shinrin-Yoku from Japanese culture also celebrates the power of nature to strengthen health. It translates to forest-bathing in English. Of course you don't actually take a bath in a park (there are laws about that). Forest bathing is a slow walk through the woods, being observant and still and listening to the voices of the forest as well as our own, which often can't be heard in the din of daily life. Research shows that time in nature reduces stress, elevates moods and boosts the immune system.
Take a Power Nap
When the day is demanding, consider Inemuri also from Japan: the power nap. The nap doesn't involve actually going to sleep. It's closing your eyes for a few minutes of quiet, even in a public space. Take a moment, rest your eyes and mind, relax into a peaceful state. It's calming, restores focus and revives energy.
Think of Others
The concept of Ubuntu from South Africa takes ideas about wellness to a whole new level. Ubuntu is the philosophy of consciously putting others ahead of ourselves, finding common ground instead of focusing on differences, offering mutual respect and compassion. It's a timeless concept backed by current research that confirms that when we step outside ourselves to do something for someone else, it's our health that benefits too.
And when we return from this trip, there's a healthy idea to revisit here at home: Be Nice. Yes, nice. It might be a Canadian stereotype but nice is kind, nice is tolerant, generous, polite. Think of what more 'nice' on a regular basis can do for everyone's wellbeing.
There are so many cultures to visit and so much to learn from wellness around the world. And no doubt you have memories or thoughts of your own to add to this list. Please take a moment to explore an idea or two. It will do your health a world of good.
This Wellness Moment is from Health Plus Insurance. From our family to yours, take care and stay safe. If you're a Health Plus plan member, remember you have access to free, professional Wellness Resources.