One of the reasons quarantine was so damaging was that it prevented people from enjoying a change of scenery. People need novelty in their environments, otherwise, it starts to affect their wellbeing.
But it’s not just getting out of the house that matters, it’s also embracing a new city or outdoor location.
Science backs up this ideal. New York University researchers, for instance, found that having diverse experiences throughout the day helps to enhance happiness and boost positive emotions. People feel good when they break their routines and do something different with their time. They finally feel like they are “living,” instead of just going through the motions.
Introducing variety helps to activate certain neural circuits in the brain. Zoom calling with a friend, walking a new route, or even just working out can all make you feel happier.
For many people, change is the reason they go on RV vacations. They want to experience new scenery and benefit from how it makes them feel. For others, the change is more permanent. North American Van Lines, for instance, is a moving company that relocates thousands of people each year who simply want to experience something new in their lives.
The Science Behind The Benefits Of Change
Researchers noted many years ago that people tend to thrive during periods of profound change. Memory seems to function better and people report higher levels of well-being.
Partially, this may be due to the activity of an area of the brain called the hippocampus. It’s involved in spatial navigation and memory function, and it is also highly sensitive to new spatial environments.
That’s one of the reasons why you can always remember your vacations in detail, but not the route you took to work last week. When something is new, the brain perks up and pays attention.
Going to new places also activates another part of the brain called the striatum, an area that helps with reward processing and environmental evaluation. This part of the brain tends to be more active in people who explore new places regularly, such as those who love to travel.
Interestingly, this activity isn’t purely functional; it also has an effect on our mood. Individuals with more active striatum and hippocampal regions tend to report a greater sense of well-being in their daily lives.
How To Respond To The Research
The message for regular people is that repeatedly switching locations and environments is critical. Individuals who move regularly throughout the day are more likely to feel positive sensations, such as relaxation, happiness and excitement. They are also more resistant to stress and better able to pay attention to the task in front of them.
There are many approaches you could take. One is to regularly move home, explore new locations every few months, and challenge yourself to get to know new areas. Another tactic is to change your decor or the way your existing home smells. You can also take more weekend breaks, go camping, or even take a minivan vacation.