As we plan our next dream adventure—whether it’s near or far, in the next month or the next year—it’s important to keep our mental and physical health a priority. Here are some tips for living a more healthy life, inspired by some of the cultures and countries we love to visit.
Spend More Time in Nature
Of course, this would be at the top of our list, but research actually shows that spending time outdoors has amazing cognitive benefits. According to the American Psychology Association (APA), being exposed to natural environments improves working memory, cognitive flexibility, and attentional control.
“There is mounting evidence, from dozens and dozens of researchers, that nature has benefits for both physical and psychological human wellbeing,” Lisa Nisbet, PhD, a psychologist at Trent University in Ontario, Canada, told APA.
In certain countries, there are actual words for spending time in nature.
Shinrin-yoku translates to “forest bathing” in Japanese, and is based on the idea that opening your senses to the natural world is not only a stress reliever, but vital to your body. No exercise is required in shinrin-yoku, it is merely being in the presence of nature and soaking in your surroundings through your senses. We have the opportunity to immerse ourselves in shinrin-yoku on our Japan journeys.
In Scandinavian countries, friluftsliv, or open-air living, is more of a commitment to spending time outdoors. This philosophy is not weather-bound, either. Wet or cold days do not deter those who are dedicated to this lifestyle and it is a part of life for many in this Nordic region. We enjoy friluftsliv on our hiking journeys in Norway and Iceland.
Relax, Soak, and Sweat
Hot springs have fascinated people for generations, and it’s no wonder cultures around the world have embraced their relaxing and healing properties.
From Antarctica to Alaska and Japan to Italy, hot springs are wonderful to soothe muscles, soak in natural minerals, and simply unwind after a day of activities. We put together a blog post of our favorite hot springs around the world that we visit on our trips.
Beyond hot springs, some cultures—including the happiest country in the world, Finland—choose to relax in hot saunas. This bathing ritual stretches back generations. Today, there are about 3.3 million saunas in Finland—that’s more than 1 sauna for every 2 people! Water is often thrown on the hot stones in saunas to give off a vapor called loyly, and inside temperatures can reach 320°F. This might seem intense, but 99% of Finns spend time in a sauna at least once a week and consider it a sacred time to reconnect with your body and mind. You can relax like a Finn during our Lapland Adventures, which is set in the northern reaches of Finland.
Drink to your health
In 2005, National Geographic published a feature story titled “The Secrets of a Long Life” about Blue Zones, geographic pockets around the world that have healthier, longer-living populations. There are five Blue Zones listed around the world. Among them is the Italian island of Sardinia, which is actually home to the world’s longest-living men! One of their secrets to a long life is enjoying a glass (or two!) of wine every day. Cannonau, their local variety of grenache grapes, has the highest level of polyphenol, which is said to reduce cardiovascular problems, and is a favorite among locals. Pair the wine with fresh cuisine straight from the sea and it’s obvious to see why Sardinians enjoy a healthy existence. Check out our trip to Sardinia.
Not much of a wine enthusiast? During our trips to Morocco, we drink lots of mint tea, usually after every meal and with every conversation as a sign of hospitality. Mint tea has natural fluoride, calcium, magnesium, copper, and selenium, which boost your immune function.
Whether you practice all of these or none of these, it’s important to stay healthy so you can travel and explore the world. Want to learn more about our journeys? Visit our website: www.wildernesstravel.com.