For adults, holidays are all about unwinding and de-stressing – whether you choose to do that by reading a book by the sea or by climbing up Mount Kilimanjaro. For children, however, holidays are about so much more. They’re an opportunity to play and experience things they’ve never done before.
The new and exciting things that children discover when they’re on holiday, broadens the mind and helps to develop confidence and all sorts of other life skills – from social to team-working. Leicester Children’s Holidays was set up with this exact principle in mind, and over the years, we’ve helped enhance the lives of thousands of children. Below we discuss the physical and mental health benefits that a holiday brings.
What you may not know about holidays, is that they can advance brain development in children. To get all scientific; when we go on holiday, we’re exercising two systems in the brain’s limbic area which are often neglected at home. These two systems are the ‘play’ system and the ‘seeking’ system.
‘Play’ is activated everytime a child buries their feet in the sand, plays a game of frisbee with a friend or screams down a 200 feet zip line (yes, you can do that on our holidays). ‘Seeking’ is activated everytime you explore: walking through a forest or a new town for example. These systems were discovered by a Professor Jaak Panksepp, a neuroscientist from Washington State University. He discovered that triggering these systems releases happy chemicals in the brain such as dopamine and opioids. These naturally occurring chemicals help to reduce stress and make us feel warm to one another, giving children a sense that ‘all is well’.
The amazing thing about these ‘play’ and ‘seeking’ systems is that they work like muscles – the more you use them, the stronger they become. So when a child experiences the things they do on holiday, they’re using these parts of their brain and developing healthier personality traits. When they grow up, the lessons they learn as a child translate into the ability to play well with others – an essential skill when looking to develop a career path later in life.
You’ve probably heard the old saying a healthy body leads to a healthy mind – something else that has been proven over and over again. To start with, exercise helps children to become stronger and fitter. It also reduces the risk of becoming overweight and developing health complications such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. All of these benefits combined can lead to a better outlook on life.
When we talk about exercise, we’re not talking about running a marathon or hitting the gym. The exercise that children get when they run around the playground or play a bit of football all contributes to a healthy body. This is why we try to combine mental challenges with physical ones to create the perfect balance. Activities like orientating stimulates the brain and helps to develop teamworking skills. whereas activities such as climbing and zip lining help to boost confidence and trust in the people around you.
You can find out all about the fun activities involved in our charity holidays. If you’re interested in helping us reach our goal to send as many disadvantaged children as possible on holiday, visit our support us page. We’re always on the lookout for volunteers to help us out and get involved in events.