By: Mandy Burris, Travel & Lifestyle Copywriter, Owner, burraimedia.com
When you think of ways to take care of your mental wellness with self-care, does traveling come to mind?
Mental health can be positively influenced by traveling near and far. Even a day trip to a familiar, beloved spot can have positive effects on your mental well-being.
Travel can separate you from the exhaustion of everyday life. It helps you to practice mindfulness by remaining present in the moment.
In my experience, exploring and traveling can also foster feel-good memories. I can look back on them whenever I want to step away from the stressors of daily living and endless to-do lists for a mood-boosting moment.
Let’s explore some of the wellness benefits you yourself can enjoy from planning your next travel adventure.
Travel creates a happier and healthier you in several ways.
Planning creates excitement and curiosity, which motivates you to look forward to something positive in your future
A change in scenery and activity can stimulate the release of dopamine (your brain's "happy chemical")
Clears your mind of all the stressors that are causing your body to release cortisol (your body's built-in alarm system hormone)
Travel allows your body and mind to rest and reset, which needs to happen regularly for wellness and balance.
Travel allows you to clear your head and 'just chill.' This is actually a powerful mindfulness skill. You are allowed to rest; you're allowed to 'just be.'
Being in the moment shifts your mind away from distractions that creep in during everyday life. Resetting your mind by traveling helps you put everything at home back in perspective upon your return.
A Practice in Letting Go of Control
Travel itself could be a stressor for someone struggling with wellness. For someone prone to stress, travel delays, learning how to get around a new city, and getting used to a new transit system, for example, can cause some people to be overwhelmed. There's stress in meeting new people and being in an unfamiliar place.
If this sounds like you, I challenge you to be curious about why you are anxious. Take a step back and practice letting go of the reins.
Travel doesn't have to be about controlling every small detail. Remember, this is your time to "be". Give yourself time for delays, and don't book such a tight schedule that everything will be "ruined" by a few uncontrollable things.
Allow yourself to enjoy the experience, even if that means being a little uncomfortable for a short amount of time. These moments help you grow.
Traveling helps people make meaningful connections and positive associations with other cultures.
In other words, travel and exploration create a connection between people, and those relationships are something everyone needs to maintain a healthy mind.
According to Dr. Dan Brennan, MD, getting out of your comfort zone and experiencing new cultures and languages is good for your life perspective. He also notes that traveling boosts your creativity and helps you see your world differently.
When we are interacting firsthand with a culture instead of just seeing a 2-D illustration of a place on a map, it can positively impact our worldview and illuminate all the beautiful complexities of people, places, and cultural traditions.
Be a Regular
Making traveling a habit can boost your mood. Chronic stress negatively impacts your memory and ability to set and retain goals. By traveling more often, even if it's a day trip to take a hike or visit your favorite beach, your mind experiences the renewal effect of your journey.
And the adventure might end, but the good feelings don't have to. Research shows that your body can experience a travel high', or extended dopamine release, for up to five weeks after returning from a trip.
You can have a more fulfilled life and experience new places, cultures, and languages. You can relieve stress and relax by traveling, in turn boosting your mood and outlook on life.
Travel doesn't have to mean trips full of grandeur and overseas adventures with Instaperfect pics. It can be a used bookstore a few blocks over or trying out a new dish at a local food truck or restaurant.
Google things to do in your area today to start boosting your mental health and travel on a budget.
Limits to the Travel Effect
There is a difference between feeling down and having a serious health condition. Traveling may have many wellness benefits, but it doesn't overshadow the need for proper mental healthcare.
Find a mental health professional near you by visiting your primary care provider, using the Find a Doctor option on your health insurance's website, or looking into one of the many available apps for counseling today.
Symptoms of mental illness may include:
feeling sad or withdrawn
unable to focus to the detriment of your quality of life
impulsive, uncharacteristic behavior
drastic mood changes
For a complete list, visit Nami.org.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: