Travel: A Remarkable Body/Mind Therapy for Seniors
Do you sometimes feel like living in a cage? Not the sturdy, steel-bar kind but just as confining. It is your self-limiting thoughts that lock you in a lonely, uneventful and often miserable existence.
Your thoughts detain you in your comfort zone; fearful of the uncertainties that may come should you dare venture out. Thus you grudgingly accept your lack of purpose, of staring at the same old, scruffy walls of your home, eat microwavable meals, watch old and boring sitcoms, and talk to people as old as you and as locked in their own cages.
You find life to be such a drag.
Being a live-alone widower, I sometimes feel the same way – like a hamster going round and round its wheel. It is maddening. So each time I like a hamster, I get up, get out and just go before I implode.
You should do the same –when you feel the walls closing in on you, just go, anywhere, and loosen yourself up a bit.
A walk around the neighborhood is often good enough. If you want to explore, have an adventure, go for a long drive, or take a train or a plane trip to a far, far away place. Believe me, it is remarkably therapeutic to both body and mind.
How is travel good for the body?
It is a good exercise, especially for seniors, i.e., dragging your heavy baggage around, running after a taxi, or lining up in front of a check-in counter.
Exploring the streets of unfamiliar cities, or walking around museums, sightseeing or leafing through bookstores is exercise you couldn’t at home.
US News reported that a typical travel can make you walk up to 10 miles a day.
Why is it good for the mind?
Traveling exercise the mind as well.
Navigating new cities, exploring museums, chatting with new people, practicing new languages, and seeing new sights are all stimulating to the brain; they flex your mental muscles and keep your brain active.
Dr. Margaret J. King, director of the Center for Cultural Studies & Analysis says, “With a short list of activities each day, freed up from the complexities of ongoing projects and relationships, the mind can reset, as does the body, with stress relief the main outcome.”
Learning new things is good for the mind, so is giving it a rest.
Other benefits you get from traveling are:
1. A change in scenery:
Travelling allows you to see new and different scenes.
Though less frequent, but a scene in scenery is just as necessary for your body and mind as changing your linens, your underwear, or clothes.
2. It is liberating:
Travel makes you forget, even for a while, your daily concerns and opens up a world of endless possibilities. It allows you to do whatever you want to do, and go wherever you want to go. That is freedom.
You can try out new things, explore places, or live outside of the norms you live by back home.
It can make you forget of your age and be as gleeful as a child again.
3. Connecting with others:
Traveling gives you an excellent opportunity to connect with other people, i.e., the guy beside you in a bus, train, or plane, for example.
They are not just people who happen to be near you, but valuable sources of information, and possibly becoming good friends.
They can give you invaluable safety tips, interesting points to see, places to avoid, nearest police station or hospital.
If done amiably, a few minutes of friendly conversation can allow you to see them as they are, like how they live where they work, their marital status, or number of children, if they have any, etc.
While waiting for my daughter and her hubby who were window-shopping, I talked with the mall’s security guard. From him I learned so much about the city, which I could never have through walking around the shopping center.
4. Allows you to find yourself:
In the course of a day, you are so engrossed with money, relationship, and health issues to know that there is so much in life other than fighting bushfires.
To see the horizon, you need to view it from a distance.
Traveling gives you that distance; it is seeing things from outside your cage. It allows you to see yourself from another perspective, i.e., your life’s purpose, your values, your needs, what makes you happy or sad, what interests you most in life, and your goals and ambitions..
Away from the maddening crowd, travel allows you to find yourself.
This year I have logged a lot of travel mileage. Most of them were with my daughter and her hubby who kindly took me along. The rest were solos.
Regardless of the mode, I always come home refreshed, rejuvenated and with lots of memories of the trip and a ton of pictures for posterity.
I plan to make three solos before the year is over and next year, when I turn 70, I plan to take a very long motorcycle ride.
That is how addicting travel is. Once it gets into your system, and make you want to do it as long as you can.
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