If you are looking for the ingredients for the perfect vacation, look no further than a trip through the French countryside. Nothing could be more relaxing than entering into this European nation where the pace of life is more calm and easy going than it is in North America. In France, you will encounter everything you need to have an enjoyable vacation and forget completely about the stress of the working world. Too much mounting stress on a person is bad for their physical and mental health, but the French believe in self care and rejuvenation in order to be a whole person.
Firstly, the scenery in France is exquisite. The French country side of the wine, farm and agriculture regions is what is most typically associated with France. This is considered the most therapeutic region of France because of its quality of life. The rolling hills lined with grapevines and orchards are breathtaking in the light of sunrise and sunset. The temperature in this region is divine, with summers that are not too hot and winters that are not too cold. The pace of life in the French countryside is very relaxed, and emphasizes a rewarding quality of life, complete with daily wine and cheese breaks midday.
France is full of history, which is stimulating and interesting for the mind. Whether you are in the countryside or closer to Paris, you are bound to encounter fascinating history in France. Europe as a whole is rich with history, but the French are known for their long history with agriculture, cuisine and the arts. The villages and countrysides outside of Paris have supported a farming lifestyle for milleniums and feature mills and cottages that are centuries old. Paris is an epicenter of incredible history, featuring historic structures such as the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe and Notre Dame de Paris.
Almost anywhere you travel in France will feature exquisite dining and culinary masterpieces. The French pride themselves on their reputation for being some of the best chefs in the world, and a major part of their culture revolves around food. There are people who tour France purely for gastronomical reasons, and the food of France is a very important part of the travels.
A long known benefit of travel is its therapeutic qualities. We travel because it is fun, but many do not know just how beneficial a break from the norm in order to have new experiences is. When we travel for pleasure, we reset our biological rhythm, rebalance our body chemistry and refresh ourselves in body, mind and soul. This makes travel an essential form of stress management. Travel for pleasure provides us with the relaxation and invigoration that our minds and bodies need in order to cope with stress. There are times when it is better to face stress down and deal with it, like in the instance of a major catastrophe that needs remedying. But particularly for long term, ongoing stress, such as that of a job with heavy expectations, travel is not just a luxury, it is a necessity.
Travel works as a biological clock reset when done properly. A real vacation involves not bringing stress with you and being fully present in the moment. This is what facilitates true relaxation and recuperation. By separating yourself from your obligations, you get in touch with parts of yourself that you push aside in order to be responsible. You allow your sleep rhythms to be uninterrupted. Essentially, you return to a very natural state of existence.
Because travel is immensely enjoyable, it does wonders for your brain chemistry. Being in a state of happiness allows our brains to create endorphins and dopamine which boost our immune systems and help our circulation. Travel is a time of recreation that has been found to effect the brain in this way. By taking the time to be carefree and spontaneous, as well as choosing events that interest you, you are allowing your brain the kind of activity that it craves and returning it to a healthy, natural state.
There is such a thing as a vacation that can go disastrously wrong as well, which is obviously not therapeutic or restorative. But the average vacation is hard to mess up. If all else fails, it is still something different, which breaks tired cycles of thinking to give a person fresh experiences. The average vacation is very good for a person.
Managing your stress is critical to your health. Everyone experiences stress in different levels and for different reasons. Every stage of life can contain stress factors, from the adverse experiences one has in adolescence to the job, school and family related stress factors of adulthood. Some people choose to work with stress and lean into it while others avoid it at all costs. Your attitude and beliefs about stress have a profound impact on how you cope with it, and how you cope with stress has a profound impact on your mental and physical health. When stress comes knocking, which it always will, the way you handle it determines whether or not you will rise above it or fall beneath it.
The damage that stress can do to your mental and physical health is immense. If stress falls into your lap and you are unprepared to cope with it in a healthy fashion, it raises your cortisol levels and makes your heart race, which is not good for the cardiovascular system or any other bodily system. This is accompanied by negative, anxious, racing thoughts that can paralyze your effectiveness. Sadly, many people who have this reaction to stress were wired to react this way when they were very young, and statistically, many of them will never break the pattern. However, for those who are resolute in changing their thinking patterns, it is possible. Retraining your mind to fight instead of flight and be proactive instead of fall apart in the face of stress is critical to your mental and physical health.
There is a time for confronting stress and every mature person needs to equip themselves with this ability. However, there is also a time for stepping away from stress and allowing yourself some escape. Both of these coping methods are essential to a balanced lifestyle, and understanding when each is appropriate is very important. When you have spent enough time confronting stress and it is time to walk away from it temporarily, most people choose vacation. Simply taking time for yourself, away from the job or schooling or other life circumstance that is causing you stress is vital. In this free time, you can stay put or you can travel, the latter of which many prefer for how enjoyable it is.
The pace of life in North America can be very hectic compared to other regions. Being overworked and extended beyond our means can lead to intense stress, which can lead to nervous breakdowns, substance abuse or a generally negative outlook on life. A change of pace can do a stressed out individual a lot of good, and experiencing a different culture can be invigorating and refreshing, leading to a new outlook on life. Consider the pace and quality of life in France. Like many Europian countries, France celebrates and encourages time taken for relaxation, enjoying a quality meal and indulging sensory experiences. It is not uncommon in the cities outside of Paris to see people relaxing on a porch midday, enjoying cheese and bread. This culture knows the value of caring for one’s self by embracing the flavors of life and not simply overworking.
Travelling to France is therapeutic because it entertains all the senses. There is an incredible amount of history to be discovered, some of the best culinary experiences in the world, a mecca of culture and beautiful countryside. Whether you prefer the sites of Paris, including the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and the Paris Opera House, or the wine country of Bordeaux and Burgundy, there is something in France to please everyone. The old architecture of France, such as Mont Saint Michel and the Arc de Triomphe, is an incredible sight for anyone to behold. And many of the art galleries and museums contain some of the most famous art pieces of all time; works by Michaelangelo, Rembrandt, DaVinci and more.
The reason that travel and vacation are so important for healing stress is that they are the ultimate means of breaking the cycle of stress. It is engrained in North American culture to stay at a task long after one has the energy to complete it because of the societal pressure to stay competitive. Taking a retreat to a place like France is like resetting an internal clock by breaking the pattern of stressful living in order to take in a new experience, refresh your perspective and heal your body and spirit through relaxation. This is an effective treatment for addiction, mental disorder or any other form of mental hardship.