Whether you’re traveling to a local city near your home or across the globe, science shows that traveling can positively influence mental health. In fact, a study by Harris Group found that 72 percent of millennials prefer to spend their money on experiences rather than on material items, noting that experiences brought more happiness to those surveyed. If experiences can promote happiness, then traveling is an experience that people don’t want to miss.
Traveling Can Be A Huge Stress Relief
When you’re constantly busy trying to succeed in your career, making time for your friends and family and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, you’re bound to experience stress. Travelling is a great way to take time away from your everyday life and recharge to avoid mental burnout. Margaret J. King, director of the Center for Cultural Studies and Analysis, summarized it well explaining why travel can be a huge stress relief: “With a short list of activities each day, freed up from the complexities of ongoing projects and relationships, the mind can reset, as does the body, with stress relief the main outcome.”
While traveling can help you relieve stress, it can also be stress-inducing during a trip. To avoid this, preparation is key. For example, research directions beforehand, get to the airport early and ask a friend to help plan the trip if you’re not traveling alone.
Traveling helps reduce depression and negative emotions
Traveling can keep negative emotions at bay including depression. According to a 2005 study by the Marshfield Clinic in Wisconsin, women who vacation less than once every two years are more likely to suffer from depression than women who vacation at least twice a year. Also, while traveling is primarily for people who want to explore new places, some people travel to keep their mind away from the troubles of their past.
Here’s the science behind why travel can help reduce depression: endorphins and oxytocin play a huge role in the chemistry of our brain that affects our mood. When you travel, endorphins and oxytocin are released based on the different experiences we go through when you travel. Thus, the brain uses these hormones to improve your mood and outlook on life.
Traveling helps you find a sense of purpose
Traveling can allow time for you to focus on your purpose in life, which can help you better understand your interests, where you want to go in your career and what ultimately makes you happy. As mentioned, people often get consumed in their everyday routine that they leave little room to think about the direction they want to take in their life, which can make them feel stuck, anxious and insecure. By giving time to put aside your everyday responsibilities, it gives you the headspace to truly think distraction-free about what you want to do with your life.
For example, many recent college graduates take jobs that may be totally far from what they want to do in their lives, making them stuck in a position or industry that doesn’t make them happy. In fact, 85 percent of workers worldwide admit to hating their jobs according to Gallup. By traveling, it gives people breathing room to think about what their career goals are instead of trying to perform well for a job that doesn’t make them happy or align with who they are.
More and more research is being published that closely examines the correlation between travel and mental health, with many mental health professionals recognizing the benefits. In fact, many treatment centers in California for mental health focus on the importance of traveling to improve mental health. While traveling shouldn’t be the only method to improve cognitive function, it can make a huge difference when combined with other practices. Here are three ways traveling can help you be more mentally fit.
If you’re stuck in a mental rut, a vacation could do the trick to alleviate those negative emotions. Whether it’s relaxing on a beach or a nice road trip through a national park, an adventure to somewhere new could help clear your mind for the better.
Dale is a writer and researcher in the field of mental health and substance abuse. After a battle with addiction, Dale was able to become the first in his family to earn his Bachelor’s degree. Dale was lucky to find a job doing what he loves, writing about these issues to help reduce the stigma associated with both addiction and mental health. When not working you can look for Dale at your local basketball court.