Traveling is a popular pastime for many people. There are plenty of reasons for this, some of which revolve around the mental benefits that you can get from spending some time away from home.
The mental health advantages of traveling aren’t always obvious at first. Nor is there just one or two clear reasons that traveling is good for your health.
If you’re thinking of traveling to help ward off depression or escape from some ongoing anxiety, but you’re not sure if it’s actually going to work, here are a few of the biggest reasons to give it a go.
One of the worst ways that depression can get you down is through unchanged schedules. Forms of depression, such as SAD (seasonal affective disorder) can lead to things like oversleeping, overeating, and social withdrawal. All of this can leave an individual feeling sluggish and stuck in their own isolated pocket of life.
Traveling is a great way to get out of the ruts and self-imposed routines of life. It gets you out of your comfort zone in a refreshing, uplifting manner. From high-paced flights to low-key beach days and everything in between, travel is a great way to boost your mood by breaking up the norm.
One of the best ways to address depression is by avoiding alone time. Socializing with others can help you stay positive and focused on the better things in life.
Traveling is a great way to ensure that you’re getting quality time with others. Not only is it fun to travel in a group, but the lack of your regular schedule ensures that you’ll have time to focus on each other.
Even if you don’t have another human being who can travel with you at the moment, you can still find a companion. Dogs can travel to many places, and their ability to impact human mental health (and the other way around) is well documented.
Even if you use as much transportation as possible, chances are if you travel, you’re going to move around more. Even the simple act of navigating through an airport can involve miles of walking. If you’re backpacking or taking in the local tourist sites on foot, those fitness numbers skyrocket.
The thing is, exercise isn’t just good for your physical health. It’s also a great way to ease that mental tension, as well. Social prescribing — the idea of treating mental conditions with simple nature-based activities — is growing in popularity amongst medical practitioners.
By traveling, you’re opening up the door to a wide variety of “natural prescriptions” that you can engage in. From walking the streets of a local town to hiking a nearby nature trail, you can use your travels to get in shape and kick that depression to the curb all at once.
Traveling is a great way to bring things back to the basics. If you’re going on a backpacking adventure, you’ll probably find yourself thinking about basic things like sleep and hydration. If you’re taking the resort or posh hotel route, you’ll likely focus on things like recreational activities and what food to eat.
The point is, when you travel, it can often be an antidote to an overcrowded schedule. If you head out on a relaxing trip, it’s your choice how busy you want to be. If you’re bored, go do something. If you’re tired, take a rest day to catch up.
In either case, you aren’t being driven by your schedule. Instead, you can take care of the basics and let life pass you by (rather than the other way around) for a bit.
Perspective is a powerful aspect of life. It’s a lot of the reason that cognitive behavioral therapy has been such a big success. The way that you see the world can impact your mindset both for good and for bad.
If you’re feeling depressed or anxious at home, this can often be exacerbated by your current perspective. Small grievances or struggles can become overblown — the “making a mountain out of a molehill” concept.
Instead, invest in traveling. This will allow you to back out a bit and take in a larger worldview. You’ll be able to see the blessings and struggles of others. The viewpoints of other cultures can also work wonders on entrenched negative thoughts.
Traveling can be a balm on a weary mind. It can heal one’s perspective both in the short and the long term as you come to see the world around you differently.
Traveling is a well-known form of stress relief. It doesn’t matter if you’re traveling alone or with family, near or far, for an extended trip or a short weekend. If you can get a chance to travel, it can do wonders for your mental health.
So consider your current state of mind. Are you feeling anxious? Depressed? Stressed? Perhaps a trip is in order. Time to get out the luggage.