The phrase “I need a holiday” is one we’ve probably all uttered at least once, but is there more to that craving than just topping up your tan? Looking after your mental health should always be a priority and sometimes taking a break from the daily grind and experiencing something extraordinary is exactly what you need.
Whether you suffer from social anxiety or you’re struggling to cope with the stress of your job or studies, jetting off to explore a new destination can offer a welcome and beneficial change of perspective. As well as fulfilling a sense of wanderlust (and giving you plenty of great photos for your Instagram feed), travelling is undoubtedly a wonderful way to revitalise your mind. Here are six mental health benefits of travelling.
1. Travelling gives you a change of scene
A simple change of scenery is often all we need to reignite our lust for life. If you’ve been struggling to find motivation for your studies, you’re stuck in a rut at work or you’ve just come out of a tough relationship, hitting the pause button to go travelling can be the perfect way to restore yourself.
Staying in one place and doing the same thing every day may be a comfort to some but for others, it can often make you feel trapped both physically and mentally. Switching up your daily routine and location by journeying somewhere new will help stimulate your mind, boost your happiness levels and make you feel like you’re doing something worthwhile with your time.
2. Travelling promotes independence
If you’ve not spent much time away from home, setting yourself the challenge of going travelling for a few weeks (or months!) will definitely give you a sense of independence. If you aren’t very good at budgeting, try living on less than £5 per day in South East Asia. Or maybe you’re not very confident around people you don’t know, so going on group tours or staying in a hostel will show you just how easy making friends can be.
All these classic travelling experiences can seem daunting, but you’ll realise just how good they’ve been for you when you get home and find simple day-to-day situations so much easier to handle.
3. Travelling opens up your mind to new experiences and cultures
Sampling new cuisines, seeing incredible world monuments and meeting locals with completely different cultures to your own can be really eye-opening. They’ll not only help put your own life into perspective and make you appreciate what you have, but they can also be amazing for expanding your mind and enhancing your creativity levels.
Soaking up a different way of life can also help you to make positive changes of your own. Perhaps you’ll even take a bit of that new culture back home with you; whether it’s a new recipe or a fresh attitude that allows you to be more mindful of things that you may have previously taken for granted.
4. Travelling gives you a sense of achievement
It’s often said that the only way to truly get over our fears is to face them head on. If the thought of experiencing an unfamiliar place (especially on your own) makes you feel anxious, perhaps embracing rather than shying away from it is the best solution. After all, if you can handle backpacking around countries you neither know nor speak the language, daunting tasks later on like a job interview or big presentation will feel like a walk in the park.
Being able to do things that seem nerve-wracking or scary can also leave you with an unrivalled sense of pride and achievement. Even if it’s just a small thing like flying on your own or successfully navigating from A to B in a city you don’t know, you’ll automatically be building up inner-strength and enhancing your self-esteem.
5. Travelling actively lowers your stress levels
Our daily lives can be filled with so many stressful situations, whether it’s work deadlines, a long commute or a hectic home life. Taking some time away from those things, by travelling to a completely new destination, is an ideal way to clear your head and de-stress.
When you’re travelling, you also tend to be in charge of what you do and when you do it. Why not have breakfast at midday or spend a whole day lazing around by a pool? Nobody expects anything from you, meaning you can completely relax and just go with the flow.
6. Travelling can be a long-term mood booster
It’s fair to say that travelling for pleasure typically makes most people happy. In some cases it has even been known to help people overcome depression. We usually look back on past holidays with fondness, whether it was because we experienced something unique, ate a particularly great meal or just enjoyed the company we were in.
Despite generally dreading the end of a trip, returning home is never as bad as you believe it will be (sleeping in your own bed again is always a major plus point). You also have so many new memories to hold onto — many of them documented in photos — that can give you an instant mood boost simply by thinking about or looking at them.
And, finally, having a great time travelling usually gives you the desire to plan more trips and have even more epic experiences to look forward to in the future!
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