Mental health is one of the most talked about topics these days and 450 million people currently suffering from some sort of mental health disorder. That’s one in 7 people across the globe. In fact, one of the most common reasons that people leave jobs or take time off is due to their mental health.
However, what a lot of people don’t know is that traveling can actually benefit those suffering in more ways than you realize. Even if you don’t suffer from a mental health condition, traveling can be essential for keeping you happy, healthy, and sane.
Here are a few of the ways travel can benefit your mental health.
1. It provides a break from the routine
Think for a moment about the average person’s day. You wake up at 7am (or earlier), hit snooze and end up getting up at 7:30, get ready for work in a mad hurry (because now you’re going to be late), grab some toast, and a flask of coffee on your way out the door, then sit in traffic for 40 minutes – and that’s all before 9am!
Then 8 hours of sitting in the office, responding to emails from irritated clients and enduring the most pointless meetings ever – the kind that is designed to ‘inspire you’ to work harder when really all they’re doing is eating into the time you could actually be spent working. When 5pm hits, you’d love nothing more than to go home but you’re running behind and end up staying in the office until 6pm.
So, you get home at 7, make a quick dinner because you can’t be bothered to cook, and spend the rest of the night sitting in front of the TV, only half watching while playing Candy Crush on your phone. 10pm hits and the news informs you of all the murders, wars, and whatever Donald Trump’s done this time. You turn the TV off and go to bed, ready to do it all again tomorrow and the next day, and the next day, until the weekend.
But by the time the weekend comes, there’s so much housework that’s built up over the week, that you end up spending most of Saturday cleaning! And on Sunday all you’re thinking is how you can’t believe it’s nearly Monday already.
Sound familiar? Exactly!
So, it’s really no wonder people need a holiday!
2. It allows you to think more freely
One of the main reasons I love to travel is to clear my mind. This is the same for almost everyone, especially people suffering from mental health conditions.
It’s sometimes a relief just to get out of your own head for a while, experience something new, and stop worrying about what’s going on back home. Traveling, whether it’s exploring a new city or relaxing on a beach, is a way for you to escape all of your triggers, and leave everything that worries you behind.
And this allows you to think a lot more clearly. You could even use your time away to really dig into what’s happening at home. Maybe you’ll realize a few things you could change to help improve your everyday life.
3. You can experience more
This goes without saying but in the day-to-day routine there often isn’t time for the experiences that travel brings. To be fair, a lot of the time you have to travel to a different country to see those things anyway.
Different countries bring you new cultures, new food, new people, and new ways of life. You’ll start to appreciate the little things in life again like an act of kindness from a stranger or a beautiful view, a sunset, or some wildlife.
You experience so much more when you travel. It becomes a total mental boost and a brilliant distraction from the routine.
4. It helps to relieve stress
Remember what I was saying about how many people take time off work due to mental health conditions? I believe that, during times of stress, one of the best things you can do is travel. Just leave everything behind and you’ll be amazed at how stress-free you’ll feel.
Taking time off work in itself will definitely help. But if you’re using that time to sit on your sofa worrying about what will happen when you go back, there’s not much point. That’s an entirely new type of stress that you don’t need.
So, get out of the country. Pack your bags, leave it all behind, and clear your head.
Regardless of what job you do, regardless of how much you feel your company needs you, everyone needs a break. Even if you’re the CEO, and people are relying on you, you can’t spend your whole life in front of a computer. If you keep on going and going and going, eventually you’ll burn out. Just take some time out.
Live freely – even if it’s just for a week or two. You’ll be amazed at how refreshed you feel.
5. It helps to revive you
One of my favorite quotes is: “You’ll learn more about yourself on a long stretch of road than in a hundred years of quiet”. This is one of the truest things I’ve ever heard.
You don’t learn anything by doing nothing, nor do you learn much by repeating the same day over and over. Doing the same routine, sitting in the same office, and staring at the same computer screen gets you nowhere.
This can end up making you feel trapped which can not only affect your mood but also your head. Traveling will let you re-evaluate your life, free your mind, and take a break from the daily hustle and bustle. Then, when you do go back to work, you’ll be alert, awake, and fresh with new ideas.
6. It can bring you calm and relax you
Just think which scenario sounds more stressful: a busy 9-5 or a beautiful beach with crystal clear waters and palm trees? I mean I know I kinda made that an easy choice but traveling is such a great way to unwind and relax.
Not having to worry about the daily grind can help you to take your mind off stressful situations. This then leads to lower cortisol levels which will boost your mood and you’ll feel calmer and more content.
7. It boosts creativity
Travelling can help bring out the creative side you forgot you had, or just no longer have time for with your busy everyday life. Are you an artist, a painter, a songwriter, a poet, a photographer – just think about the last time you actually focused on your hobby.
When you’re stuck in the same place day in and day out, life can become a bit of a dead end. Your creative juices can just grind to a halt. When you travel there’s literally inspiration everywhere.
Beautiful scenery, a beach, locals walking in the streets, a cute coffee shop, or even the view from your airplane window can all get those juices flowing again. And if you’ve always wanted to get into something new but never thought you had the time? Well now’s the perfect time to start.
8. It teaches you to communicate with strangers
I know first-hand how intimidating speaking to people you’ve never met can be, especially in public. But when you travel, you don’t really have a choice.
You have to order your dinner from a restaurant, buy something from a shop, and speak to the receptionist when you check into your hotel and these people won’t know you. Heck, you might not even speak their language!
But when you realize that they’re perfectly nice and happy to help you, it’ll give you a little boost. Especially if you’re traveling solo. You may even make some friends out there which would be amazing!
9. It changes your way of thinking
You know that feeling of relief when you wake up on a Sunday morning, without the sound of your alarm, and have literally nothing planned for the rest of the day? You’ll feel totally different from the mad rush of a Monday morning, right?
Well, this is the same for travel.
Instead of repeating your old habits again and again and again until you’re blue in the face, traveling gives you the chance to make new ones. And with new habits come new ways of thinking, new cultures, new scenery, and new people.
With new ways of thinking comes a happier you and a happier life.
10. It boosts mental durability
How do you usually feel when you know you’ve got a trip coming up? Excited, nervous, or both? Well, traveling induces all of these feelings in our brains.
Everybody fears the unknown. Travel can certainly be an unknown sometimes, especially when it’s a country you’ve never visited before, and it can be difficult to know what to expect. But this is all a good thing for your mental health.
The anticipation along with the intimidation of the unknown are such conflicting emotions that they can actually make you mentally stronger.
Final Thoughts on how Travel Can Benefit your Mental Health
Did you know that travel is currently the most searched-for thing on Google? And the majority of people who are searching for this are doing it between the hours of 9-5. This pretty much proves what people are really thinking about while they’re at their day jobs!
Another fun fact – one of the most common phrases said in the workplace is ‘I need a holiday’.
Traveling is beneficial in so many more ways than people know. It can benefit your mental health just by giving you a new perspective on how others live. It can improve your mood, give you a little bit of freedom, and allow you to recharge or pick up an old hobby.
So, my advice to everyone, whether you suffer from mental health conditions or not, is to travel the world. Escape the routine, ditch the office, and leave the little corner of the world that you live in, and, trust me it will be very good for you.