Travel and Mental health: Is travel good for mental health?


Is travel good for mental health?

Is travel good for mental health?

(Contributors- Jade Laurenza, Göksu Kayacılar- Editor at Travel Insightpedia , Barron J. Damon-Professional Certified Coach)

“Traveling- it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller,” quoted Ibn Battuta, 14th CE Muslim Berber- Moroccan scholar and explorer. Traveling does far much than what you are probably aware of. It can provide a much-needed break from the various demands placed upon us (and that we place on ourselves!). Taking a vacation is essential to reset and remind yourself that career is not the most important aspect of life. 

In this article, ‘Travel and Mental health: Is travel good for mental health?’ we shall look at how travel benefits one’s mental health.

We live in a stress-filled society that focuses more on work and reaching levels of success than on our mental health and well-being.  It is easy for us to be consumed by everyday demands from our work and other duties. On one hand, this can be helpful for us since humans are creatures of habit. Most of us like the routine and the predictability that these demands bring. It can provide a sense of purpose, a good sense of achievement, and boost our self-worth. On the other hand, having to meet too many demands and having too little time to relax, especially over a prolonged period (which is often the case in our fast-paced society), can be detrimental to our emotional and mental wellbeing. Our brains and bodies are not designed for this lifestyle. 

Many take the opportunity to break away from this by traveling. There are various reasons why traveling can be highly beneficial to our emotional and mental wellbeing, which can lead individuals to have the desire to travel.  When we are in our home/work environment, we can be distracted and overwhelmed by the numerous tasks that we see around us that are not completed. This makes it difficult for our minds to relax and remain calm. “In our busy lives, we can easily be on autopilot. When our minds are on autopilot, we are often thinking (and worrying!) about things in our future and our past, which takes us away from the here and now” said Dr. Amy Smith, Counseling Psychologist.


Travel for stress reduction

Stress is becoming a constant companion for many people. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a man, woman, or a kid, anyone can suffer from this ailment. The worst part is that many of us are ignorant, ill-informed, and discouraging towards issues related to mental health, in general. One way to reduce stress and boost your mental health includes traveling. Traveling to different places can create a distraction which is very important while bursting stress. It promotes happiness and helps us to think about better things in life. Traveling is not just an exploration of the outer world but also for your inner health. You rediscover and reinvent yourself while traveling. Stress can impact your body in a variety of ways and can eventually become deadly. It raises your blood pressure, and your whole mental health will be affected. Stress hormones can cloud your judgment and affect the release of happy hormones. When you travel, you are boosting the release of happy hormones to take over the stress hormones.

The change in scenery offers a tangible benefit to reducing our stress levels and the risk of burnout, and our minds truly appreciate getting off the hamster wheel of daily life (if only for a week or two). Anyone tired of seeing the same walls for the past 12 months probably won't disagree with this statement.

 According to Mindful wonderer, Having a trip to look forward to, especially when other circumstances maybe a little more challenging, can also provide a welcome mental health boost. Solo travel can strongly affect your personality as living alone can toughen you up. It will make you more resilient than ever before.

Traveling offers an opportunity to break up the routine to address suppressed issues that have occurred in the daily 9-5 grind. Many times, we do not have time to properly address our self-thoughts because we have to deal with our daily activities in order to keep our lives afloat. Traveling gives us time to sit, think correctly, decompress, and fully invest in our whole being brain, spirit, soul, and body to face things we have no time to deal with in our day-to-day hustle.

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Makes you mindful

Traveling brings the element of surprise and discovery that we lack in our day-to-day lives. Setting out on a journey, we accept and expect every possibility that could come our way, including risks and danger. This opens up our minds to explore our limits and capabilities while providing a sense of self-accomplishment in the long term. Most people’s minds have a strong tendency to focus on the past or future - we collectively spend very little time in the 'here and now'.  The past is generally recalling situations we regret or suffered trauma from, and the future is often thought of as either a dream-like fantasy or an image of our worst nightmares.  But the power to witness and divert your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors can be possible when you are connected to the present moment.

Traveling, whether it's a 'staycation' or an exotic trip, demands constant present-moment awareness.  Because of this, it's a great way to integrate mindfulness into your daily life in the long-term. Travel is linear - it's about the present moment and maintaining that present-moment awareness.  It's about a specific place or singular experience at a time.  

“I think that traveling can make us more mindful because when we're away from the usual mundane and routine, we're more likely to stop and appreciate what's around us. We visit new surroundings because we want to go sightseeing, so we're literally training our minds to take note of what is around us” said Tracy Vadakumchery, Psychotherapist.

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 Getting out of your comfort zone

Whether alone or in groups, traveling allows individuals to become present in a continuum of time and place, in-between communities and different cultures. The constant movement and the need for adaptation to different situations are different than our everyday encounters. Hence leaving the comfort zone, which suggests being more aware of one’s self in order to survive in different contexts.

Travel dismantles the 'familiar mind' by forcing our brains to make sense of new stimuli and form new neural pathways.  Once we break the barriers of the 'familiar mind,' we can then transform our habits into patterns of awareness and acceptance.  This may mean accepting challenges or obstacles as concealed opportunities.  As is the case with many of the trials life throws at us, we can learn and adapt to leave the confines of comfort.  We begin to learn that the nagging inner voice is not, in fact, who we are.  

We grow in conditions that force us to think differently than before.  Each new perspective, unfamiliar stimulus, can be used to our advantage to rewire our neural pathways to form healthier patterns.  These subtle changes will then affect our perception of our place within this new environment, and ultimately, our place within our own lives.  

“Traveling allows me to understand my personality and my relationship with others the more I am exposed to different cultures and places. I notice I am more sensitive to phrases or actions that aren't considerate of others when I come home from traveling. It pulls me out of my comfort zone and forces me to find comfort in someone else's way of living. Traveling essentially challenges me to become a better person. I am much more grateful in life because of my experiences and I also think about others more than I would have if I had stayed home and only seen what was in front of me” said Raul Mercado, Owner at Camping Helper

Interaction with cultures

Getting to know new cultures and interacting with people enhances our bonds with humanity and the human community. As we cross borders, our most distinct identities as citizens, employees, or social members of our community remain in the background. Our identity as a citizen of the earth, a human, comes into play. This allows us to connect with the rest of the world while making us more grounded on our own.

Experiencing and learning about other cultures helps you become a more open-minded and judgment-free being. You get to meet new people who offer different views from the life you've grown accustomed to, which ultimately places you outside your comfort zone. Anything outside your comfort zone pushes you to dig deeper which ultimately benefits your mental health.
Traveling benefits mental health, as it gives you exposure to wonder and awe, key habits for happiness. It also expands your empathy, as you have exposure to other cultures and people. It may add to your ability to experience nature as well.

It may help connect you to others, as well, and connections are keys to mental health. They all feed hope, a known protective factor for anxiety and depression.

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"The kind of benefits traveling offers to one's mental health includes the clarity and space to reset and refresh one’s thoughts and actions. Being in one’s natural environment can often cloud our mind with memories, responsibilities, and triggers from the people or things that affect us. We can also fall into our routines and habits as we try to make it through our day. Being in a new environment, can invigorate our soul, shift our focus to appreciate the present moment, and helps us create new routines. This change can inspire us to reevaluate how we’re living back at home and help us determine more clearly what we may need to add or let go of in our life. Traveling is a huge self-growth tool and can lead you on a journey to self-discovery. It can open your eyes, renew your mind, bring healing to your heart, peace to your soul, and discernment to your actions. It’s an experience that begins with your body going on this new adventure, leading you to explore the complexities of your mind, then renewing your soul and becoming the person you were meant to be. It helps you develop a better relationship with yourself, thus helping you develop a better relationship with other people too. The best part about traveling is that it can happen in many different styles, ways, stays, distances, and durations to pursue transformative experiences that can change your life,” said Christine, certified wellness and travel coach.

Traveling allows for many opportunities to be mindful. Slowing down. Sitting quietly at a picturesque view and allowing yourself to feel the sun or the breeze. Feel the sand or the ground under your bare feet. Smell the ocean, local spices, or trees. Taste the flavorful food or indulge in a local sweet treat. Hear the gentle winds, the voice of a local foreigner, or the sounds of regional music. “Travel opens up the door to learning not just about others but also about yourself. Most importantly, travel is visually stimulating to your senses - be it seeing new sights or exploring new moments” said Ilakkiya Maheswaran, Travel Blogger.

Concluding: Is travel good for mental health?

Life is unpredictable and irredeemable. As the popular phrase goes, you gotta expect the unexpected. None can guarantee you tomorrow's daylight.  As long as life is a mish-mash of fun and seriousness, you will have something to look forward to. You won't end up being a mess. Just a simple bonus travel tip for you. Click selfies to capture the moment but don't forget to LIVE in the present. For, eternal are memories.

If you liked my work, you can also buy my ebook, 'Resuscitate yourself', by clicking here or you can get it from Kindle and Amazon. It is a self-help book, which is mainly focused on an effectively efficient approach in improving brain power and beating stress, depression, and other mental ailments. 

I hope my article, ‘Travel and Mental health: Is travel good for mental health?’ is of assistance. Subscribe to my newsletter and get all my latest delivered staright into your inbox.

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