I’ve never really been a “beach person” when it comes to vacations. For me, a great vacation is about going to new places and immersing myself in different cultures. Experiencing a new language, finding new ways of seeing, and pushing culinary boundaries are my idea of good fun. Yes, I’ve gotten lost, had to rely on the kindness of strangers and eaten some creatures I didn’t even know were food. However, I’ve loved it and treasure those very vivid memories.
A recent Psychology Today article helped me understand why I find this so exciting. It turns out, it’s all in my head. Fear-provoking situations, even mild ones, encourage the release of noradrenaline, which makes us more aware and clear-headed. I’ve certainly felt that clarifying buzz. What I didn’t know was that the noradrenaline also stimulates the hippocampus and its neighboring structure, the amygdala, which stores memories. With all this amping up of emotion and memory-related brain structures, not only are you more present but those stimulating situations are remembered very well.
If a major trip isn’t in your immediate future, don’t worry. The author reminds us that just getting out of your comfort zone with new experiences, no matter where are you are, is enough to get the noradrenaline flowing.