- On September 5, 2019
Are feeling in a rut?
A bit too comfortable in your comfort zone?
Finding it hard to get energized by work you used to love?
Or struggling with too much on your plate?
Time for a trip!
I’m not talking about the same old beach house vacation (although that can be a great stress reliever and spirit re-generator!).
I’m talking about giving your brain a big jolt by going to a place that’s definitely past the edge of your comfort zone.
Maybe camping in the wilderness.
Or high adventure.
Or someplace where you must be resourceful to understand and be understood.
This time I chose the latter.
I’m in the Czech Republic for the next couple of weeks.
Trying to get by in a language totally foreign to me…no residual high school French or Spanish lessons to fall back on to have an inkling of what’s going on. No matter how I try, my tongue gets all twisted around the Czech-Slavic words. It’s like a big foot is stuck in my mouth when I try to use a few polite phrases. Ugghh, how I’m butchering the language! I hope the Czechs have a good sense of humor and realize I mean well!!
I’m in Prague some for pleasure…because I have a recurring wanderlust that needs to be satiated every few months.
I’m also in Prague to practice “work-play” balance. Devoting a few hours each day to a project I’m developing for work, blogging, and staying in contact with my clients. Being disciplined and committed to accomplishing that while so many fun distractions abound!
Living out of a suitcase, dealing with time zone changes, figuring out local money and food…well, since the brain loves patterns, traveling like this really puts it on high alert, in a good way.
Traveling to a new place is a mega-dose of brain strengthening, which helps us be more resilient and creative when faced with change. It stimulates our Neuroplasticity, the capacity of our brain to re-wire itself to support change.
First, there’s the infinite variety of experiences and the novelty of a new location. You exercise focus by paying keen attention to where the taxi driver is taking you, situational awareness of pickpockets in tourist attractions, diligence to how many stops have passed on the metro to get to yours. Nothing is routine, and that’s a really good thing for your brain.
There is a multi-sensory impact, new sights, new sounds, new smells, new tastes.
And, you definitely need a sense of humor and openness about making mistakes when you travel! Inevitably something is going to go wrong and you have no choice but to make the best of it. I’ll save the story of leaving my bag of groceries at the fountain in the square until another time…
Finally, even if you travel solo, you are never alone. You are dependent on locals to help you figure out how to navigate daily life and find the best experiences. Whether it’s your Uber driver, local shopkeeper, or waitress at the restaurant who knows a few words of English, you are always connecting in a very curious and different way with someone. Relationships are important to strengthening our brain’s capacity for change, even if they are just touch point interactions.
Does packing your bags and winding up in a place so different give you a bit of the heebey-jeebeys? Consider that people are people—no matter the language and culture–and most are kind. Some may get impatient with obtuse tourists if they are in a popular location, yet I have found that showing respect, humility, and curiosity inevitably brings a helpful response from just about anyone I’ve met.
And it’s so, so good for your brain, your energy, and your perspective on life!
Pack Your Bags! Where will take your brain next?
Photo: JMaliszewski, 2019, Pack Your Bags!
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