Weirdly enough, the two things come with very similar benefits.
So, if you’re not getting enough of one, maybe the other will do (or hey, go wild and do both!).
Here’s a few major reasons why sex and solo travel are prescriptions for a happier life, with remarkably parallel perks:
Sex makes you feel better about life
A recent study from the University of Toronto found that regular sex makes people happier.
However, this mood boost is not generated by the sex per se, but the feel-good connections that prop up the act.
“Sex seems not only beneficial because of its physiological or hedonic effects, but because it promotes a stronger and more positive connection with the partner,” writes lead researcher Anik Debrot.
As The Cut reports, it’s “affectionate touch frequency” that is key here.
The wellbeing surge experienced by couples in the study was more pronounced when they reported cuddling and kissing more. It led to them feeling better about life.
Solo travel promotes positive connection
Solo travel may not bring about “affectionate touch” in the same way (depending on how you work it) but like sex, it’s one big exercise in positive bonding.
According to neuroscientist Dr. Robert Lustig, being genuinely connected with other people in real life is a major pillar of happiness.
“Face-to-face connection with friends or loved ones drives neurons that increase empathy, which in turns boosts your serotonin,” he tells Lifehacker’s podcast, the Upgrade.
Read more: Three great reasons to try travelling alone
When you travel alone, you’re more open to connecting with other people: you’re looking outwards and ready to make new friendships wherever you go.
You also have the time and head space to develop these relationships, away from the distractions of everyday life.
So like sex-related affection, the friendship aspect of solo travel promotes the release of serotonin.
Sex significantly reduces stress
Sex kicks your brain’s reward system into play by firing up feel-good endorphins, so it’s a natural stress-reliever.
Not only that, but the exercise element of it has a calming effect, too.
One study even found that sexual activity helped to reduce blood pressure in subsequently stressful events.
The relationship between stress and sex is not always straight-forward (one can actually inhibit the other) but at its best, sex holds a powerful anti-stress effect.
Solo travel gets rid of a major stress trigger, too
When you travel alone, you also shed stress – albeit in an entirely different way.
Solo travel allows you to escape the obligations you face in everyday life. Most of us are weighed down by the expectations of other people, and, without even realising it, we feel the pressure of what we “should” do nearly all the time.
But when you set out solo, this invisible stress disappears. You are free to do whatever you want to do, with fresh horizons and in the company of people who don’t know you.
It’s the ultimate freedom.
“Being with a new group of people gives the opportunity to practise new ways of being,” says psychotherapist Karin Peeters.
“I don’t mean being fake. I mean being more yourself than you’d ever dare being with those who know you, and have already formed their opinion of you. Feel the new-ness of the situation, and the fresh energy it brings.”
A 2012 study confirms this effect, showing that travel lowers stress and negative emotions by allowing us physical distance from the things that trigger them.
Sex may improve your workplace performance
Yes, really. A 2017 study from Oregon State University found that people who sex were happier at work the next day as a result, increasing both job satisfaction and job engagement.
“We make jokes about people having a ‘spring in their step’ but it turns out this is actually a real thing and we should pay attention to it,” says Keith Leavitt, the expert in organisational behaviour and management leading the report.
“Maintaining a healthy relationship that includes a healthy sex life will help employees stay happy and engaged in their work, which benefits the employees and the organisations they work for.”
Solo travel has a similar effect
Travelling is a great opportunity to press the reset button, and this impact is more pronounced when you fly solo.
Travelling alone allows you to cut out the relentless noise of everyday life, and carve space for big thinking.
Read more: How being single can enrich your life
“I define solitude as a state of mind, a space in which to focus one’s own thoughts without distraction,” says psychology professor Mike Erwin, co-author of Lead Yourself First: Inspiring Leadership Through Solitude.
This space is “essential to good decision making and leadership”, he adds.
Solo travel facilitates flexible thinking and the ability to learn new skills, too: all of which is good news in the workplace.
Two of life’s most powerful elixirs
In a similar vein, solo travel is a boon to happiness and health.
The anticipation of a trip alone is enough to significantly boost your sense of happiness, and the positive effect of travel is such that it can even reduce the chance of developing depression among those who travel regularly.
So, go forth and let the good times roll.
Whether it’s great sex you’re after, or some epic solo travelling (or perhaps a bit of both), either will put you on the path to a life well-lived.
We’ll cheers to that…
Images: Shutterstock, Unsplash