The overwhelming logistical nightmare can be enough to even the most organised and unfortunately often enough to paralyse those with the best intentions.
There is little doubt that there is something special about embarking on an adventure into the unknown and experiencing the world with new eyes.
It is universally agreed that feeding the soul with the unknown prompts our interest to push further into those areas we once thought were I’m-possible, most of my ahah moments have come when pushed to realise aspects of myself previously unknown.
Whether it’s a trek into the mountains, a cycle along a rural back road, an off road motorcycle adventure or skiing off-piste, any adventure has the ability to benefit your physical, mental and emotional state.
The brain communicates with itself by transmitting chemicals from one neuron, or nerve, to the other. And this regular, rapid-fire messaging plays a big role in how you feel and function each day.
These neurotransmitter chemicals are classified into two basic categories: excitatory, meaning they stimulate brain activity, or inhibitory, meaning they have a more calming effect.
Adventure is more than just a selfie opportunity, there is a direct link between what you do and how you feel. Check out these neurotransmitter chemicals.
Serotonin - You probably already know that serotonin plays a role in sleep and in depression, but this inhibitory chemical also plays a major role in many of your body’s essential functions, including appetite, arousal, and mood. Many antidepressants target serotonin receptors to improve your mood and lessen depressive symptoms.
Interestingly, most of your serotonin is stored in the intestine, and this chemical may play a role in digestive functioning as well, hence the importance in a well maintained diet.
Dopamine - Dopamine controls many functions, including behaviour, emotion, and cognition. This chemical also communicates with the front part of your brain, which is associated with pleasure and reward. On the positive side, it helps motivate you to work toward achieving a reward.
Glutamate - This is the most common excitatory neurotransmitter, found throughout your brain and spinal cord. Glutamate has many essential functions, including early brain development, cognition, learning, and memory.
Norepinephrine - This chemical, also called noradrenaline, can sometimes act as a hormone as well. Its primary role is part of your body’s stress response. It works with the hormone adrenaline to create the “fight-or-flight” response.
Here are several reasons why you might consider planning an adventure:
A brilliant stress reduction.
I know that in the opening statement I mentioned that planning an adventure can be overwhelming to the point of paralysis but when looking at photos there’s a reason why there’s a smile on everyone’s face after they’ve come back from an active adventure.
Gregory Bratman, the lead author of a stress study, said that 'nature experiences, even of a short duration, can decrease this pattern of thinking that is associated with the onset, in some cases depression.
So if you’re feeling the strains, now might be the right time to immerse yourself in an active adventure. If you do become overwhelmed at the thought of planning then push a date further and give yourself more time. Accomplish small goals frequently to boost your motivation.
When time is on your side I often find that the research and planning can be as equally as enjoyable as the event itself. Who doesn’t love a bit of retail therapy, even more so when buying with purpose.
Incorporate health and fitness into the event.
If you're having trouble getting the motivation to get fit or give up those unhealthy habits then there is no better solution that training with purpose.
Having purpose behind the action increases accountability and establishes pain avoidance, both highly effective motivators.
If you are unsure how to train for your specific event then seek out forums, social media groups or talk to the event organisers. Start with being honest about your ability and set some realistic intentions, if you’re on your first adventure then avoid thinking about anything extreme like climbing Everest or trekking the Himalayas, although possible, gaining some experience with the preparations for such adventures will often make the whole experience a lot more enjoyable and reduce the chances of failure.
Starting with small adventures will also act as a springboard, propelling you onto the next adventure with additional confidence in your ability to achieve.
Improving your mental state in the great outdoors.
One of the best reasons to spend time in active outdoors adventures is that it can reinvigorate your mental state. Studies have shown that by experiencing nature can elicit feelings of awe, which can release endorphins and trigger a mental boost.
We respond positively to things that are good for us, even if we are yet to experience first hand. One of the reasons why we follow those on social media doing all that we would like to be doing. Ultimately, we tend to be drawn and attracted to things that are beneficial to our survival, which is one of the reasons why natural elements can help lift our moods.
Be a doer not a watcher…little fulfilment comes in watching others live your dream.
Gain a sense of accomplishment
Taking on any adventure can create feelings associated with personal achievement. The more difficult the adventure and the greater the challenge, the more sense of achievement we feel when we accomplish those intentions.
Whether you’re trekking to Kilimanjaro, climbing Island Peak, cycling the Andes or adventure touring the Silk Road, using adventure travel as your personal goal can provide a euphoric feeling that stays with you long after you’ve returned home, of course it could be just jumping on your bicycle and headed 50% further than you have.
Think bigger and you’ll understand why in no time at all.
Travel increases your self-awareness
The key bi-product of travel is raising your self-awareness and it’s one of the most beneficial parts of taking on an adventure.
Adventure travel brings you closer to your “inner self”, giving you the chance to examine and challenge yourself in ways you didn’t think were possible, it also allows you to set new boundaries on what you thought was possible for someone ‘like’ you.
“These thing’s don’t happen for people like me”, is one of the most common objections I hear. They don’t happen for people ‘like’ you because you do not take the action needed to achieve it. Simple.
Stepping into the unknown and taking a risk demands our increased attention and can bring an intense state of self-awareness.
The outdoors can make you smarter
Immersing yourself in an adventure can increase your higher order cognition in more ways than one. A study found that brain scans taken after an extreme adventure showed that the participants had greater and more focused activity in the prefrontal cortex than they did before.
What’s more adventures help increase activity in your hippocampus, the brain’s main “storage unit”. Typically, the hippocampus decreases, as you get older, leading to memory loss, however physical outdoor activity can lead to a chemical reaction in the body that increases the hippocampus.
In summary, as I have mentioned whether it’s a trek into the mountains, a cycle along a rural back road, an off road motorcycle adventure or skiing off-piste, any adventure has the ability to benefit your physical, mental and emotional state no matter how small.
Isn’t it time to get started?
If you want plan an adventure but unsure where or how to start, why not book a session with me Benjamin Bonetti over at the booking page.
Click here to secure your therapy appointment.
Thanks for listening; there are hundreds of thousands of podcasts, articles and videos out there, and every time you share, like and subscribe, you help me help more people. For more articles remember to visit the website BenjaminBonetti.com and if you think it is time, then take advantage of the introductory sessions that can be found on the booking page.
Click here to secure your therapy appointment.
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