5 Ways Travel is Good For Your Mental Health
11 Dec 2020
For some people, traveling may seem like a stressful task. Getting packed, making arrangements for pets, dealing with airport security, boarding, baggage claim, car rental, and hotel stays make travel overwhelming and frustrating. Because of this, some of us don’t see going somewhere as good for mental health. However, studies show that getting out of your comfort zone has many positive benefits.
It is sometimes difficult to unplug from work, family, and responsibilities, even when taking a few days off or over a three-day weekend. The reason is that the brain can’t ignore specific key triggers that exist within everyday life. For instance, the sight of your computer or a printout from work can remind you of all the work you have left to do on a particular project. Even though you don’t work on the weekend, the stress is still there. Also, science tells us that three days isn’t enough time for the body to fully relax, particularly, if those triggers aren’t present. Getting away to a new setting moves the mind to places it hasn’t been, therefore blocking ordinary life concerns. Once in an unfamiliar place, the brain is forced to take in everything foreign to it.
Once the brain is re-focused, the body will follow as cortisol levels lower. As this happens, it’s easier to think more clearly, and the trip becomes a way to gain enthusiasm for new ideas once you return home. The reduction in cortisol, the fight or flight hormone, boosts the immune system, increases digestion, and tells the body what it needs for nourishment. Starting a gratitude journal will help you change your thought patterns, how you see your life and increase your mindfulness. Include your thoughts and feelings about what you are learning so you can revisit it later when you need encouragement and inspiration.
If you are stuck in the same old job, doing the same old thing, reinventing who you are is a far-reaching goal. Leaving everything behind, exploring the unknown, learning about other cultures, foods, music, and lifestyles are all ways to discover a new you. Write down the things that fascinate you about where you are. If you find that you like a particular food, cooking that food once you are home will bring back the good memories to help with mood stabilization.
As the brain becomes more challenged, often inner focused thoughts turn outward. This change equates to the enjoyment of people that might not have been apparent in everyday life. It also creates empathy for others, improves communication, and increases creativity. These new skills can promote relationship growth once you return home. Part of this process is sharing your adventures with others to draw them into the magic of your trip. Revisiting photos of your journey will enforce this gift of interpersonal change.
While on your hiatus, take time to include physical activities. Hiking, walking tours, shopping, and investigating will get you moving in ways you may not usually move. This experience is your chance to get outside, enjoy the clean air, maybe even find a new hobby. Individuals who have been trying to lose weight may find it easier on a vacation — if you listen to your body. Once you are back home, continue this physical activity to build on the benefits of your trip.
Become More Resilient
The associated anxiety of visiting a new place may seem scary. However, once you conquer your fear of getting out of your comfort zone, you will find that it makes you more resilient, tolerant, and ready to face the world. These are lessons not quickly learned unless you are faced with some adversity to overcome. So let your travel be a learning environment, one that allows for rebuilding and healing you and your mental health.
Travel is for more than just fun; it has many mental health benefits that can produce lasting effects. Set an itinerary that is both challenging, rewarding, and entertaining, and you are sure to find néw life. If you are struggling with cabin fever or feeling blah and uninspired, taking a trip may be the answer. Experiencing something new may change your life for the better.