How Traveling Can Help You Stay Mentally Healthy
Whether it’s a weekend getaway or a two-week trip, when you leave your everyday life behind and experience a different landscape or culture, it inspires you and leaves you feeling refreshed and happier. The benefits of traveling work wonders for both personal and professional life.
With the pandemic far from over, traveling is not on the cards in the immediate future. But the good news for globetrotters is that looking forward to your next adventure is also beneficial for your mental health. Of course, there’s nothing that can replace savoring exotic street food, watching an iconic sunrise atop a mountain, or soaking up the sun by the ocean, but you can start a savings plan for when things open. For now, enjoy the feel-good effects from the comfort of your home. Read on to learn about the seven benefits of traveling for your mental health.
1. Travel gives you a change of scenery
If you’ve been stuck in a rut at work or struggling to find motivation for your studies, hit pause and plan a vacation. Sometimes, all you need to restore yourself and reignite the passion for life is a simple change of scenery.
Staying in the same place and doing the same thing on repeat day after day can make you feel confined mentally and physically. While changing your routine is a long-term plan, a quick fix is traveling. Some of the health benefits of traveling include making you feel like you’re doing something worthwhile, boosting your happiness levels, and stimulating your mind.
2. Travel relieves stress
You're constantly on the go, and your busy lifestyle is full of stressful situations. When you swap your everyday routine with leisure time, afternoon naps, and the freedom to make your own schedule, it releases the ‘happy hormone’ called serotonin that does a world of good to your mental health.
The benefits of traveling are it frees your mind and temporarily removes you from activities and places that increase stress. Taking time away to escape the commitments and stressors is an excellent way to clear your head and de-stress. Surely, you’ve felt your stress melting away when you’re relaxing by the beach, listening to the sounds of the waves while you sip on a chilled beverage.
3. Travel boosts mood and happiness
Other than the obvious benefits of not working while eating a cheesy pizza for breakfast, be it with friends, family, or solo, vacation is your chance for some ‘me’ time. You step away from the daily grind that helps stimulate your mind and rewire your brain.
A study by Cornell University stated that it’s not only during and after a trip that you reap the benefits of traveling. Even the anticipation of going on vacation can boost your mood. Another study by the University of Surrey backed this up, saying - people are at their happiest when they’ve planned a vacation. They are more positive about their general quality of life, economic situation, and health.
4. Travel enhances creativity
Are you professionally lost, feeling overworked, or experiencing a creative block? Instead of resenting your circumstances or risking burnout, why not take a breather and reap the health benefits of traveling? Sounds unbelievable? Well, it worked for Georgia O’Keefe, whose best works were after her travels to Hawaii and New Mexico, or Ernest Hemingway, who drew inspiration for his stories from his time in Spain and France. When you fully immerse yourself into the destination, it triggers fresh stimuli, sparking synapses and awakening new areas in your brain that give you a creative boost.
5. Travel helps you stay fit and healthy
Traveling gives you multiple opportunities to get active, and physical exercise has a direct link to mental wellbeing. Whether you want to hike up to a mountain peak, swim in the azure waters, or cycle through the bustling sidewalks of the city, when you embrace the great outdoors, you improve your mood and boost energy levels.
To further enhance the effect of the outdoors, include natural settings in your itinerary. Connecting and immersing with nature has several positive effects and reduces depression, anxiety, and stress. Along with strolling down city boulevards, take some time out for a little ecotherapy.
6. Travel pushes you out of your comfort zone
You have a daily routine that involves working, taking care of your family, creating a savings plan for the future, and more that keeps you within your comfort zone. But sometimes, you need to look beyond. With this in mind, one of the benefits of traveling is the opportunity to expose yourself to new things and do something a little less comfortable.
When maps send you in the wrong direction, your flight is canceled, or you lose your wallet, you need quick, creative thinking and problem-solving. While it’s stressful, it’s positively stressful - it helps you learn, improve cognitive health, and think on your feet. Looking back, when you know you got through it all, it gives you a push, and you feel you can get past anything in your daily life.
7. Travel boosts confidence and self-esteem
Travel is more than spa days and swaying palm trees. Traveling is a unique form of therapy that alleviates anxiety and stress. When you’re in a new place, you must navigate the terrain. This can mean struggling with language barriers, getting lost, or withstanding extreme temperatures. Dealing with such travel stress helps you cope in your everyday life. You realize that the world is so much bigger and the tasks in front of you are relatively smaller. This gives you the confidence and self-esteem to effectively handle day-to-day duties.
Say ‘hello’ to your new self
More than materialistic things, experiences truly fuel your soul. If you’re looking to refresh and refocus, plan a vacation. Start a savings plan, research destinations, check out hotels and resorts and plan the many experiences you want to indulge in. You only live once, so get out there, explore the world and return with a changed mind.