10 Health Benefits of Traveling to the Arctic

Why the North is the next stop for wellness travel

June 7, 2019 Anhelina

As the wellness trends keep on coming, we try to keep up with the latest health fashion and wake up from winter hibernation. Some go for keto diets and slow fitness, others talk about magnesium baths. But instead of rushing to buy yet another foot massager or “mountain air”-scented candle, why not start with the world outside your door?


“Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.” - Khalil Gibran

 

Researchers have found that people who went on a 90-min walk in a natural environment showed decreased rumination (repetitive negative thoughts), which leads to reduced risk of mental illness and depression.

It seems like nature heals not only the body, but also our minds.

But why the Arctic? Contrary to majority thinking, it’s not all blizzard and frost with a penguin or two. The Arctic is enigmatic, diverse, irresistible. It’s quaint coastal villages, trails of intrepid explorers, fascinating Inuit cultures, and Mars-like landscapes. And remember: penguins live mostly in Antarctica.

So to make sure that 2019 is the year you “get out there,” here’s a list of simple and straightforward things you can do (or just to be in the moment) in the purest region in the world.

When a meditation app and a candle simply won’t cut it, nature offers a way to find the empowerment and balance we’re all striving for.

Get up and let’s “carpe diem”!

#1 Have a sip of tea high up in the mountains

Why run on a treadmill when there are still places in the great outdoors left to conquer? Hiking in the Arctic is the perfect retreat from the brain fog and brick walls of modern life while exploring the edge of the known world and earning a workout for your muscles and lungs.

Scientists agree, being out in nature leaves us feeling alert and invigorated, while also improving our focus and concentration.  Fresh air gives you a dose of oxygen, natural sunlight generates Vitamin D, and far-off horizons give your eyes a much-needed adjustment and rest from screen time.

Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland, Canada, is ideal for adventurous souls looking to escape the modern world and enjoy the aforementioned health benefits. Explore the hiking trails on this alpine plateau, and enter a world of silent granite cliffs and green forests.

Set foot on the ancient sea floor and preserved ocean avalanches. Stop, take a deep breath of mountain air, and look around. Feel millions of years of history beneath your feet. You can’t help but be charmed by the beauty of this place.

Got the fortitude and the passion? Test your mettle by climbing up the mountain overlooking Western Brook Pond Fjord, part of the Long Range Mountains.

Those who long to retreat even farther into the wilderness can challenge themselves with an unbelievable winter hike on the backpacking trip in Auyuittuq National Park on the remote Baffin Island. Trekking on the “land that never melts” among the frozen river valleys and majestic fjords, camping in tents and cabins among the glaciers is a life-changing experience.

After the physical and mental challenge, sit down, sip your tea, and relax among some of the world’s most gorgeous scenery.

GET YOUR DOSE OF FRESH AIR IN HIKING TRIPS IN CANADA

#2 Dive into your spiritual world in the purest water on Earth

An old scuba saying goes, “we dive not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.”

Snorkeling and diving are staple activities for those seeking a retreat from the world. Swimming underwater has been known to help people suffering from ADHD, reduce anxiety, and relieve stress. Snorkeling and diving are both cardiovascular exercises, which stimulate the body to release endorphins, and elevate your mood.

Plunge your face into the cleanest water in the world at Silfra fissure in Iceland. Experience the joy of exploring a fissure where tectonic plates drift apart and enjoy the incredible health benefits of snorkeling and diving into the bargain.

While in the water, your breathing takes on a calm rhythm, the noises fade away, and your senses refocus and enhance. Your mind starts to become quiet. Your sight narrowed by your goggles, you become transfixed by the blue world around you. It's almost like meditation.

We guarantee that all your tension and worries will stay on the water’s surface!

#3 Head out on the deck on a chilly evening and listen to the ocean waves

If you delight in rippling water or have the sounds of the ocean on your playlist, rest assured it's human nature to be attracted to water. We have a lifelong connection with water, as it covers 71% of Earth and makes up around 60% of our bodies.

No wonder that biologists say that being near water increases blood flow to the brain and heart, which promotes overall wellness. Apparently, as a result, people feel more calm, relaxed and just happy. Needless to say, time spent on water might also invoke inspiration and creativity.

If you’re seeking to become one with one of Earth’s quintessential elements, pack your suitcase and join an Arctic cruise! Sit on the deck and watch the passing glaciers, soul-stirring fjords and serene icebergs; gaze at the coasts of secluded Arctic lands, and spot majestic wildlife.

Take some time off in the North Atlantic Ocean and Labrador sea on a Newfoundland circumnavigation cruise. Or see why the Northwest Passage sea route attracted 19th-century explorers, embark on your own adventure in Arctic waters.

It’s a guaranteed getaway from the digital world and feast for your eyes.

SAIL OUT ON THE OCEAN ON AN ARCTIC CRUISE

#4 Have a good laugh watching undeniably cute Arctic Animals

Puffins in Iceland have a way of making observers smile. These fearless birds, or “sea parrots” as they are sometimes known, roaming over centuries-old coastal cliffs will make your day. Lay down quietly in the grass on the Latrabjarg Cliffs, and observe with stillness like a nature photographer.

Pause those “cute animals” videos and come face to face with the real wild side of life! See how many wild animals you can spot on your trip. Maybe it will be a friendly Arctic fox coming to say hello, or a curious polar bear that stands up to get a better look at the travelers in the Tundra Buggy. Or is it going to be an enormous whale splashing its tail to the awe of visitors?

Wildlife watching will always lift your mood. Get a positive energy boost and just savor the exclusive moments face-to-face with nature. These guys are your ultimate companions in fighting Nature Deficit Disorder.

CATCH A GLIMPSE OF POLAR BEARS AND WHALES ON A WILDLIFE WATCHING TOUR

#5 Pet a horse

Continuing the creature feature, these good-natured animals deserve a special mention. Horses have long been a part of mental health and therapy programs. The human-horse connection is a powerful, direct experience of nonverbal communication, which is believed to build a sense of trust and support.

Come to ride or just pet the kind-hearted Icelandic horses, which have been living in the meadows around the Ring Road for hundreds of years. Or, come to Canada’s Chilcotin Mountains and take an unforgettable horseback trip, like a true cowboy!

Save time to meet these gracious creatures!

NUZZLE WITH HORSES ON HORSEBACK RIDING TRIPS

#6 Get waterfall drops on your face

The surreal scenery will take your breath away - like a boost of positivity to your brain, stimulating the release of happiness chemicals. You’ll feel alive, as the rushing water draws you in.

In Iceland, on the South Coast tour, witness the magic of Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, which is one of the rarest in the world, because you can walk behind it!

Or, while on the way to Myrdalsjokull glacier, get up close to the mighty Skogafoss. A hike up to its crest will have you catching your breath a few times, but the panoramic views of the lowlands below will be a priceless reward.

You can also walk up to one of the world’s top 10 waterfalls, Gullfoss on the Golden Circle route, or chase any other of the more than 10,000 Icelandic waterfalls.

The glacial waters will wash away your vexation in a matter of seconds!

VISIT WATERFALLS IN ICELAND

#7 Feel incredibly small standing next to something colossal

“We're made of star stuff. We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.” - Carl Sagan

Our daily lives often make us feel like we have to perform our best, be serious and in control. The pressure can be overwhelming, leaving no place for self-expression and simple freedom.

Let Nature’s giants shift your perspective and feel like a tiny human lost in the majesty of Mother Earth. It’s important that you take the time to see vast natural wonders so still, gracious, and powerful to realize just how little we know about the world, and how good the discovery feels.

When you look up and see the sublime, slightly terrifying view of the towering peaks and icebergs, it takes you out of everyday life. It makes you feel small, and your troubles even smaller.

Embrace this feeling and become a little part of a massive swirling universe, near huge chunks of ancient ice in Greenland’s Ilulissat Ice Fjord.

Set yourself free in Iceland's Valley of Thor, Thorsmork, zoom through Vatnajökull, the largest glacier in Europe, or set up your tent below giant old trees in Vancouver Island, Canada.

Take home a memory keepsake of these immovable giants who have stood for many years through vicious winds and tidal waves. You’ll feel like a brave glorious human standing up to the pebbles life is throwing at you!

FACE THE SUBLIME IN THE ICELAND’S HIGHLANDS

#8 Feel the grass beneath your feet

“Earth's crammed with heaven… But only he who sees, takes off his shoes.” - Elizabeth Barrett Browning

“Earthing” or “grounding” is a current wellness trend that suggests a simple barefoot walk on the grass can significantly reduce inflammation, anxiety, and a whole list of other unpleasant conditions. It is believed that the skin contact with the ground and being at equipotential with the Earth helps to charge your body with electrons, which are said to positively affect your health.

The reason? The Earth is a wellspring of negative ions, supercharged with antioxidant and free-radical-busting electrons -- clean air after a rainfall, near oceans and waterfalls, and inside forests and woodlands. Imagine then how supercharged your skin will be when your bare feet touch the ground. Quite the energy exchange between you and the Earth!

Walk in meadows rich in wildflowers, and watch sorbet sunsets listening to the white noise of tumbling waterfalls. Camping or backpacking in the scenic Rocky Mountains, or the Canadian Rockies, is the ultimate example of experiential travel and immersion in nature at its best.

If you’re looking to set your foot in Iceland, hunt for camping spots of striking beauty in the Westfjords, on the Laugavegur trail, and in many more official campsites. Moments like unzipping your tent to a golden sunrise leave memories for a lifetime.

Leave your gadgets behind and have a word or two with nature. You won’t be disappointed.

#9 Practice mindfulness in the natural hot pool

What’s so “secret” about Iceland’s Secret Lagoon? Its waters, for years lauded in folk wisdom for its healing properties, may just be extremely beneficial for your health.

In fact, geothermal pools such as the Blue Lagoon, Secret Lagoon, Mývatn nature baths, and many other natural spas are rich in minerals that may boost your skin’s health. Plus, many have had insanely beautiful turquoise waters!

The buoyancy of Iceland’s geothermal water may ease joint pain and stiffness, and boost your immune system. The lagoons are also supercharged with a special ingredient, silica, which makes the waters milky-blue.

Silica is a precious natural white mud that might do wonders for your skin and is known to help with psoriasis, eczema, acne, and many other skin problems. Silica is also purported to strengthen your skin, tighten pores and exfoliate dead cells.

Moreover, these waters often have a full-body soothing effect and may just help you to sleep better. Pamper yourself for all the hard work you do every day, and soak in the healing waters of natural hot pools. Close your eyes and let the water work its magic on you.

#10 Witness a miracle

“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” – Carl Sagan

According to some researchers, the feeling of awe can make you healthier, more humble, generous, and more in-sync with the people around you.

Depart on an adventure to see something borderline - supernatural, authentic, and find yourself glowing with happiness.

Become a Northern Lights explorer and see the Magical Auroras dancing in the pitch-black sky. An essential on many bucket lists, the Northern Lights are just not something you can afford to miss out on in life!

The experience is so genuine and magical, that some even shed a tear. The crisp air, the snow, and the frost will get you addicted to the feeling of freedom.

Secure yourself a vantage point, sip your hot cocoa, and wait for nature’s finest show to begin!

The list of wonders you can experience in Iceland goes on. You can descend into the colorful heart of a volcano at Þríhnúkagígur, or take a tranquil walk on the Diamond Beach among the glittering icebergs. Compare where you had more “wow” moments. We guarantee that you’ll lose count very soon!

 

So should you book that Arctic getaway, and escape the chaos of the modern world? Absolutely! What are you waiting for?