Not that we need any excuse to get excited about holidays…but did you know that family holidays are actually good for your child’s brain? On a family holiday we exercise two very important systems buried deep inside our brain’s limbic area – the PLAY system and the SEEKING system (according to Washington-based Neuroscientist Panskepp, 2016). As the names suggest, the PLAY system is activated when you engage your children in active play, and the SEEKING system when you explore together and discover new experiences. When these systems are activated some of the wellbeing chemicals we may be familiar with are triggered into the body; oxytocin and dopamine as two common examples.
When you take your family on holiday you are encouraging their urge to explore and increasing their capacity to play. Of course, there are other benefits to be gained from family holidays. Life is so busy these days that it’s easy to simply keep going, however research has shown that the wider benefits of holidays will also pay dividends in the long-term:
Being outdoors more can increase children’s attention span and concentration.
A walk together in green space can calm the system and even reduce blood pressure and cholesterol.
New experiences can stimulate the brain and support cognitive development, as well as fostering an understanding of the world.
Holiday experiences release anti-stress chemicals, allowing the adults in the family to recharge their batteries.
Down-time contributes to good mental health and physical wellbeing.
A break from the routine changes the nature of conversations and interaction, taking it out of the ‘ordinary’ to a more creative sphere.
So… if you haven’t booked that getaway yet, what are you waiting for ?!