Written by Jenny Rousseau
You’ve undoubtedly already heard that travel is good for the soul. Although we can interpret this in many ways, today, we will look at 7 ways travel can improve your mental health. Traveling and seeing the world can get you out of your comfort zone, introduce you to new people and help you make memories that will last you a lifetime.
How travel can improve your mental health
1. Travel requires focus, planning, and dedication
Taking on a large and important task and overcoming obstacles can improve your mental health. However, you don’t need to take a trip halfway across the globe if you feel overwhelmed. You can start by planning a small day trip with your girlfriends. Traveling with a friend can also be a good idea, so someone else is there with you if you feel stressed. If you want to use travel to deal with anxiety, you can go easy on the planned activities and spend a relaxed weekend recharging. Once you realize how well that trip went, you can attempt something more ambitious. Over time you can develop a detailed itinerary and make plans to visit multiple tourist hotspots and participate in various activities.
2. Travel lowers stress levels
Travel can be the perfect medicine if you are feeling stressed and fed up with your daily routine. In those situations, you probably need a low-key, leisurely holiday. Take some time off from everything, pick a tropical destination and spend a few days lounging in the sun. Spending time in the sun will give you a dose of vitamin D, and your brain will start releasing serotonin, which will positively impact your mood. If you are an introvert and feel you need to recharge, you can pack a couple of good books and take plenty of naps. On the other hand, if you are the type of person who lowers their stress by tackling something new, you can take a proactive approach to your traveling and keep your mind active by learning new skills.
3. Travel improves confidence
Knowing that you can achieve anything you set your mind to can be great for your self-esteem. While this is true for many activities, travel is highly specific in the sense that you can pick a mountaintop, climb it, and then view the world from above. Not many things in life can compare to the sensation that you have managed to achieve something epic. Of course, you can start small and pick what kind of hurdle you want to overcome. For example, if you are not an outdoorsy type, navigating a busy marketplace can help boost your confidence. Once you have traveled the world and managed to cross hundreds of miles in a single day, some of the tasks that used to be scary and overwhelming will start to feel much smaller and manageable.
4. Travel helps you stay fit
One of the most direct ways travel can improve your mental health is by simply getting you up and moving. There is immense satisfaction that comes from physically overcoming a difficult challenge. Being physically active helps you connect your body and mind. Unfortunately, not everyone is cut out for endless hours at the gym. Finding a fun physical activity can be significant if your mental health issues co-occur with a substance use disorder. The importance of aftercare in drug and alcohol recovery cannot be understated, and for recovering addicts, it’s essential to have the support you need. Exercise is a recommended aftercare activity because it helps restore the natural brain chemistry. Therefore, traveling with a friend who can help you stay motivated and active is a great way to keep fit, have fun and take care of your wellbeing.
5. Travel gives you a new outlook on life
We are usually friends with people who share our values and beliefs. Unfortunately, that also means we will reinforce our views over time. Most people have a closed social circle, and getting an outside perspective on life is tough. If you are feeling down, it can be challenging to judge your current circumstances realistically. However, travel lets you meet different people and see how various cultures around the world live. You can take the time to learn a new language, taste the local cuisine and get a sense of how other people’s lives function. This can give you a newfound appreciation for what you have.
6. Travel improves creativity
At some point, you’ve probably gotten the advice to pick up a creative hobby. However, not everyone is a highly-creative person, and if you fall into that category, you’ve probably struggled with finding the right outlet for your creativity. Thankfully, SwellWomen offers coaching that can help you get inspired and re-discover your creativity. We believe that travel can improve your mental health by providing plenty of opportunities to find inspiration and bliss in the world. New experiences that immerse you in a different culture will surely get your creativity flowing. Learning new skills improves neuroplasticity, which is a prerequisite for boosting creativity.
7. Travel improves social skills
If you plan to travel a lot, your social skills will definitely get a workout. When traveling with a friend, you might be able to rely on them and get by without interacting with new people. However, if you are a woman traveling alone, you will need to make cultural adjustments. You can ask locals for advice on where to eat or the best tourist destinations. Learning to ask for help and forming social bonds with new people can be incredibly beneficial for your mental health. Trusting others and learning about their personal experiences can help you strengthen your social skills. Over time, as your social skills improve, you will see that making new friends is much easier than you thought.
The bottom line
As long as you approach travel with a positive mindset, it can provide new experiences that will last you a lifetime. Through travel, you can learn to live in the moment and have the freedom to explore the world at your own pace. Now that we’ve gone over 7 ways travel can improve your mental health, it’s probably time for you to start planning your next trip.
About the Author
Jenny Rousseau is a Self-care and Wellness Coordinator for Bright Futures Treatment Center FL. Through her work with individuals struggling with addiction, Jenny has realized the importance of teaching people to have sober fun. In her free time, Jenny loves to travel and taste sweets and deserts from all over the world.