Exploring your neighbourhood can be as satisfying as travelling abroad, new study finds

The research suggests there is joy to be found in experiencing new places, even if they are nearby

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, May 2, 2020.  The Abu Dhabi Corniche as the sun sets on Saturday.
Victor Besa / The National
Section:  NA
For:  Standalone / Stock images

While international travel may still be challenging amid the coronavirus pandemic, exploring your immediate surroundings could be just as satisfying, according to new research.

A study published in Nature Neuroscience suggests that there is joy to be had in experiencing new places in new ways, even if those locations are just around the corner.

The research team tracked the movements of more than 100 people in New York and Miami over the course of several months, and discovered that subjects who had new and diverse experiences on a daily basis showed increased happiness and other positive emotions.

Notably, these new experiences do not have to be groundbreaking and they don’t need to involve long distances – the key is finding yourself in diverse locations on a regular basis.

“Using geolocation tracking, experience sampling and neuro-imaging, we found that daily variability in physical location was associated with increased positive effect in humans,” the study states.

For those of us whose sphere of movement has shrunk to the odd outing to the local supermarket lately, this may resonate.

Variety, as they say, is the spice of life, even if this means visiting an unexplored part of your neighbourhood, or taking a new route on your evening dog walk.

And even if you can’t get out much, new sights, sounds and experiences can also positively impact your frame of mind, so try picking up a new book or listening to a different genre of music.

Just make sure you always stay safe.