How Travelling Can Improve Your Mental Health

travelling and mental health

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think “travelling”? Is it vacation? Reducing stress? Meeting new people and finding new fun things to do and experience? No matter what the association is, travelling is certainly great for so many aspects of our being. It can greatly reduce our stress, whether we notice it or not, and it gives us new – sometimes life-changing – experiences. All in all, it significantly benefits our mental health in so many ways – so, let’s dig in and explore why this is the case.

Increased Self-Confidence and Social Confidence

No matter where you decide to travel, you are bound to go around and meet new people (especially if you travel solo). There are new surprises and experiences on every corner and that can greatly impact your self-confidence in a positive way. Let’s say you’re shy or don’t have that many great friends at home. The very first step of deciding to go to a new destination can boost your self-confidence immediately, especially if you’re going there alone. You will feel much better about yourself and you will be excited to try out new things.

Once you get there, you are bound to meet new people. New friends and even acquaintances are amazing mental health boosters (something which we often take for granted and may not be consciously aware of). Moreover, getting into a groove of talking to people you’ve never met, in spite of having social anxiety, can raise your self-esteem and social confidence – these experiences show you that social anxiety doesn’t have to affect your quality of life. Also, for many people, travelling has helped them to effectively combat their social anxiety.

Increased Exercise 

When going to a new place, no matter where it is, you will want to explore and see what’s there to see, taste, and greet. If you choose a destination with plenty of scenery, national parks, reserves and forests, you will want to engage in a relaxing (or strenuous) hike and breathe in some fresh air. If you, on the other hand, choose a new city to explore, there are dozens of tours organised so you can see everything fun and exciting.

All this requires you to move your body and it essentially increases your physical activity. And there is no better and more fun way to exercise than by going on hikes and sightseeing. Even if you already love exercising and you would like to try that in a new park or resort, just make sure to bring your own exercise mat, and you can even join a local yoga session outside and make some new connections at the same time.

You Get to Re-Evaluate Your Life

Sitting at home, going to work every day and doing everything repeatedly day after day can make us go a bit crazy – or perhaps just feel numb on the inside. Many of us are stuck in a rut and feel a bit lost as to how to get out of it. This is where travelling comes in handy.

When you go someplace different than your home, you get to see new things and meet new people with different morals, opinions, and lifestyles. While experiencing all these new things, you get to take a hard look at yourself and your own lifestyle. Maybe someone will give you that little push you desperately needed to change some things about yourself and your daily routines. That is one of the biggest mental health benefits of travelling since you get to see what you want to change and how you can change it the best way possible. Not to mention how much more open you will be to new things, which can allow you to find something meaningful to you, and you only.

It Reduces Your Stress Levels 

Speaking about being stuck in a rut and doing the same things over and over again – this whole life experience may not just be unfulfilling for you; but, it may also lead to chronic stress if your career, environment, and lifestyle are themselves sources of stress.

Even if you don’t notice it, or you’re not sure why you’re so stressed day after day, it simply means it’s time for something new and some days off. We all need something to distract us from daily lives and find something interesting and meaningful to us. So, if you feel like you’re going to fall apart soon, then research a destination, book everything that needs to be booked, pack your things and go. Travelling is a great stress reliever and you often need it. Don’t postpone your travel plans and forgo opportunities to relax. Your mind needs to stop working sometimes. De-stressing, decompressing, and having ample time for personal reflection are all important aspects of good mental health.

The Discovery of New Hobbies and Interests

Another role of travelling is to teach us to be creative again. You’re not only going to be exposed to new people but while travelling, you may also learn some new skills or redevelop some old ones. This doesn’t mean you have to take some classes while out there (but no one is stopping you if you want to). Just by being exposed to a new language, culture, excursion, and other new things, your mind will become stimulated again and perhaps provide you with something new that makes you happy.

That is why travelling is a great opportunity to meet your new hobbies and interests. Maybe a local artist will inspire you to start painting or touch upon your earlier arts and crafts hobbies. You may learn about new sports and start doing them when you get home, or you may discover a passion for photography or hiking. You never know what you’re going to experience while travelling and what’s going to bring new ideas and interests into your life. And that is not the only benefit – all of this will also boost your confidence and make you feel happier as a result.

Increased Satisfaction in Life 

This brings us to the last and probably the biggest benefit to our mental health – satisfaction with our own lives. Since you are trying new things, reinventing yourself and relaxing, this can lead to a greater sense of happiness, satisfaction, peacefulness, and gratitude. You may embark on a brand new beginning of your own life, allowing you to change the mundane routine of life that you’re used to. Constant worrying and work obligations can make us miserable, but travelling – even for a short period of time – not only helps to give us room to breathe, but it can also make us realise that the life we lead may be worthwhile in the long run, if it gives us the freedom to travel.

Everyone is looking for ways to learn something new or to simply relax. If you feel miserable at home and want to change something, try travelling before trying anything else. Not only will you meet new people and enjoy yourself while doing so, but you may also manage to discover new things that you can bring home and use as methods for improving your mental health.

 

Nemanja Marinkoff is editor-in-chief at WalkJogRun. You can find him on Twitter.

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