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Wellness Wednesday: 6 Reasons Why Traveling is Good for the Mind, Body, and Soul

Being “well” is not just about picking heavy things up and putting them down. Wellness as a whole does not entail just seeing how fast you can run a mile or a 5K; and wellness is not just about eating well, or even sleeping well. Though wellness takes on many definitions, it is essentially a web of interconnected dimensions used to help one achieve their fullest potential.

It is about living a well-balanced lifestyle in reference to the Six Dimensions of Wellness model created by Dr. Bill Hettler, co-founder of the National Wellness Institute (NWI). As depicted from the diagram below, the Six Dimensions of Wellness include one's occupational, physical, social, intellectual, spiritual, and emotional dimensions.

With such a holistic approach, an individual becomes aware of the connection between each dimension and how each dimension greatly contributes to a healthier lifestyle. Merely stated, wellness becomes defined as the connection between the mind, the body, the soul, and much more. Much of the time, you will find that the body (or physical dimension as shown above) is discussed a great deal in the sense that we need to partake in physical activity and that we need to learn about healthier nutrition options.

The thing is, there is so much more to life.

This is where we introduce traveling, its relationship with the Six Dimensions of Wellness, and thus its importance to a better version of yourself.

Traveling. It is a life-changing experience. It significantly impacts our 6 Dimensions of Wellness. It impacts us socially, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, physically, and even occupationally. These are 6 reasons as to why traveling is healthy for us.

6 Reasons Why Traveling Is Good For The Mind, Body, And Soul

Physically: Listen. Many discuss the fear of going on vacation due to potentially putting on weight from the lack of physical activity and poor nutrition. If this is you, you are doing it all wrong. Staying fit while on vacation is quite easy and becoming fit is even easier. This is especially true for the individual who sits at a desk all day. On average, my wife and I can easily walk approximately 10 miles a day with as much sightseeing and hiking as we do. On our last trip to Puerto Rico, I was even inspired to take my first yoga class. This leads one to state that not only do we move more physically, but we can become inspired to take on new activities. Secondly, traveling is all about trying foods that are local to your destination. I get excited just thinking about this. This may even create an intellectual stimulus to want to create new foods upon returning home. Enjoying local foods doesn’t mean you have to pack on the pounds. Much of the foods in other areas are actually quite healthy and nutritious. It just means you need to be mindful of how much food and what kind of food you are consuming while still enjoying the tastes of something new. Nonetheless, traveling allows you to become fit while exploring new panoramic views and oh-so-yummy foods.

Sometimes, just sometimes, letting out some emotions at the top of a mountain is exactly what the doctor called for.

Socially: Traveling offers the ability to have more face-to-face communication with individuals as we discover new cultures and new excursions to partake in. Be sure to put your phone away during these times so that you can be fully immersed (well, unless it is to take some mind-blowing pictures of your amazing foods and panoramic views you visited). Taking the time to speak with the locals can be ever so rewarding. It can lead to a better vacation as you eat where the locals recommend or even partake in new events in which the locals recommend. This dimension of wellness is enhanced while traveling as communication skills are improved. This is especially true when traveling to a foreign speaking destination where you have to learn to speak to locals in a different manner (i.e., by pointing or describing with hand motions).

Intellectually: Whether traveling domestically or internationally, our minds become further opened to new ideas and experiences as we explore new cultures. Our minds are constantly working while on vacation as we explore these new places and their history. Don’t forget the intellectual stimulation you might get when you are lost and trying to find yourself on a map thus, developing problem-solving skills. Creative thinking is greatly enhanced as we also become introduced to new ideas and experiences.

Spiritually: Connecting to your spiritual dimension can be extremely difficult on a day-to-day basis when one is working full-time, going to school, dealing with varying hardships, and so forth. Traveling offers you the ability to enhance your spiritual dimension by finding your true meaning and purpose in life. When your internal personal feelings are heightened and become connected while traveling, you will develop a deep appreciation for life and existing natural forces. You know exactly what I mean if you’ve ever reached a point during your travels and you had to just stop, stand or sit there quietly for many minutes or hours, and fall into a meditative state. When you walk away, you’ll feel that your heart and mind are light and at ease. While traveling, this happens to us every morning as we grab a cup of coffee, hike over to a particular point where it is quiet, and we watch the sunrise. No talking. Just us, our cup of java, and nature.

Emotionally: We laugh, we cry, we try new foods, we de-stress. We have those first-time experiences when you see the Sistine Chapel or when you climb the top of a mountain after many hours to be succumbed with a panoramic view that is indescribable to anyone back home. Traveling is a great time to even change those nagging habits of yours that you’ve been trying to change for sometime. Now, let's not forget those moments when everything goes wrong. Lots of emotions take place. Maybe you forget your passport, some cash, or you might even just get lost. Well, these moments simply help us learn to be more flexible, patient, and better problem solvers. Let’s not forget that when you travel with your loved one, relationships are strengthened and further enhanced. These feelings of overall emotions as collectively mentioned above allows you to have a better sense of who you truly are.

Occupationally: Let’s face it: You going on a long inspiring trip, allows you to feel amazing, you’ve learned so much and you want to keep on keeping. Of course this might impact your occupation - impact it in the sense that you want to quit and move to said location. As traveling allows you the opportunity to discover your true self, you might even just discover your career ambitions, passions, have a greater satisfaction for your job, and so forth. Nonetheless, traveling offers you more sleep, less occupational stress, the ability to relax and take a step back. You’ll come back to work refreshed and maybe even full of new ideas.

Did I mentioned that you’ll most-likely get more restful sleep than you are currently getting? I am quite sure I sold you on traveling with this point.

With the new year in full swing, it is a great time to start planning a trip this year. I challenge you to go somewhere new and enhance your 6 Dimensions of Wellness. If you’ve not been overseas yet, do so! You’ll not only get to know yourself better, but you’ll come back a better version of yourself.

For a PDF handout about the Six Dimensions of Wellness, click here:

- Joshua Reed is a Certified Personal Trainer through the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), Precision Nutrition Certified Coach (Pn1), and is the owner of Reed’s Wellness and Fitness Training. He currently operates a small space in Ludlow, Kentucky and travels to see clients in the Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati area. He offers both personal, online, and small group training from his location, the client’s home, and/or outdoors. He is a 2012 graduate of Eastern Kentucky University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Adult Fitness and Wellness Management. Joshua currently attends the University of Kentucky, where he is earning a Master’s degree in Biomechanics with a concentration in running mechanics and injury prevention. You can reach Joshua via e-mail at [email protected] or on Facebook.

Photo by Joshua Reed