The benefits of travel go beyond making memories and meeting new people. Getting out of your comfort zone and exploring a new place can have a remarkably positive impact on your emotional well being. Want to know more? Here are seven ways,
How travel can be good for your mental health.
1. It can help you stay fit and healthy.
Physical exercise is known to improve mental well being, and travel offers ample opportunity to get active. Whether you enjoy pounding the pavement on a city break, swimming in the sea or summiting mountains. getting to know a new destination by embracing the great outdoors can boost energy levels and improve your mood.
Immersing yourself in and connecting with nature is another key way to reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression – and while you can do this anywhere (even in cities), it makes sense to incorporate a little ecotherapy into your travels too.
2. It shakes up the status quo.
Whether you venture abroad or simply to the next town over, taking a break from your usual routines with a trip away from home can help break negative cycles, get you out of a rut and reveal a world of possibilities beyond your bubble.
‘When I'm in a period of depression, getting out of the house and out of negative routines (for me, wallowing on the couch and eating junk food) can help to clear my head and give me the space to properly consider the things my brain is telling me,’ says one of my friend and former travel editor. ‘Going somewhere completely outside of my usual sphere, be that in the country or abroad, can be an effective way of gaining both literal and metaphorical distance. If nothing else, I have interesting stuff to go and look at and do as a distraction!’
3. It gives you a different perspective.
Experiencing different cultures can open your eyes to new ways of living. Something as simple as learning a new recipe or changing the way you spend your downtime can have a dramatic effect on your wellbeing. Travel can lead you to question and challenge the norms of everyday life at home, potentially inspiring you to make positive changes.
When I feel my own stress levels rising, for example, I like to think back to my experiences riding in tuk tuks in South East Asia As we overtook buses on blind corners, dodged death-wish pedestrians and got cut up by countless motorbikes, our driver remained relaxed and took it all in his stride, as did other road users. Despite the chaos, everyone was calm. After a few of these journeys my own worries and bewilderment dissipated as I realised that the alternative responses – fear or road rage – serve no-one. I try to apply this lesson to my life at home: you cannot control the actions of others – only the way you respond to them.
4. It increases creativity.
It’s been scientifically proven that new experiences – particularly ones that allow you to immerse yourself in a different culture – improve the neuroplasticity of your brain, increasing creativity in the process. After a stint of grief-induced agoraphobia, a Famous Lonely Planet Travel Writer Erica Buist decided to go around the world to take part in seven festivals for the dead – and write a book about it.
‘I helped build an altar for the dead in Mexico, danced in a parade in Nepal learned enough Japanese to get by in Kyoto, and in Madagascar I got hit in the head by a corpse (it was on the shoulders of its dancing descendants),’ she had said. ‘Every now and again I feel a shadow of not wanting to leave the house, but after all the experiences I’ve had, it’s hard to doubt my ability to get to the shops. Travel is stressful, even when it’s wonderful, and now when things go south it's almost like the travel I've done is a benchmark I know I can get back to.
5. It lowers stress levels.
Sometimes all your body and mind need is a rest – and where better to chill out than on a sun lounger somewhere warm? Sunshine is a great stress-buster, giving you a dose of mood-boosting vitamin D and increasing the brain’s release of serotonin, the so-called ‘happy hormone’. Leaving work stress and the everyday routine behind in exchange for afternoon naps, leisurely walks and the freedom to make your own schedule can do your mental health the world of good. Spending time away with friends and loved ones can add to the feel-good factor, while solo travel can refresh your sense of independence.
6. It boosts self esteem and confidence.
Travel isn’t always swaying palms and spa days. It can also mean navigating crowds in excessive heat, getting lost, struggling with language barriers or culture shock – all of which is extra challenging if you’re prone to feeling down or anxious. Claire and Laura from "Twins that Travel" have found that dealing with travel stress has helped them cope in their everyday lives.
‘For us, travel has become an unlikely form of therapy for our anxiety. By keeping our worlds "big", travel gives context to the smaller tasks in life that can often feel overwhelming when you suffer with anxiety. For example, the elation of stepping off a plane after getting ourselves to the other side of the world makes completing a short train journey seem easily achievable. Travel continues to keep our lives open and fulfilled, which in turn, leads to better mental health.’
7. It’s an act of self care.
When you’re feeling low, it’s easy to feel guilty or undeserving of nice things. But treating yourself to a trip – whether it’s a staycation or far-flung getaway – can be an empowering act of self care.
Of course, anxiety and depression can make travelling difficult. Anxiety makes you worry about doing it, and depression both saps energy to organise it and tells you that you are not worth the effort. Planning a trip can be a good way to push through that and show yourself some love or give yourself some purpose.
As well as the focus and excitement travel planning can bring, travel itself grants you the freedom to do what you love, take time to rest and practice living in the moment. To this end, for many people, travel is not simply an enjoyable pastime, but an essential part of fostering a healthy, positive mindset.
So I plead if you are feeling too miserable , change your place, that is one of the best way to change your on going mood. It does not have to be far away or exotic abroad, a simple near to town destination will fulfill the same purpose.
Note from the Author,
" Travel made me rich and free. Magic and miracles are true , once you wander on the roads to places different and divine. I have collected so many thoughts and stories while being a Tour & Trek guide for last seven years. Sharing with you all, those memories and stories , and wishing you all , that someday you guys travel far and wide too. I am not a great writer , so ignore my grammar and spellings, read it with feelings, and you might just be affected with the wanderlust to hit the road"