5 Amazing Benefits of Travelling for Mental Health
Travelling can have transformative effect on our health and well-being. Today we're supporting World Mental Health Day, with the theme of supporting good mental health in the workplace. We'll share with you some shocking, but true, statistics of the the state of mental health in the UK and then reveal 5 ways travelling can ease and improve mental health across the board.
We take so much time looking after our physical bodies. We make sure we’ve got a house, that it’s warm, we take food, usually three times a day, we shower, brush our teeth, wear clothes and so on. How much time do we actually spend looking after our mind and mental health? It seems like a no-brainer (no pun intended), but many people don’t even think about what they’re doing, or not doing to look after the well-being of their psyches.
But mental health is a real issue and needs to be addressed. The data for mental health in the UK makes for unsettling reading: one in four adults are affected by mental health issues each year. Forty-nine per cent of work absences are due to stress-related illnesses, 12.5 million working days were lost to work-related stress in 2016/17, and almost one-third (31 per cent) of the UK workforce said they would consider leaving their current role within the next 12 months if stress levels in their organisation did not improve.
Aside from external stress and our personal choices, there is also another layer of the mental health spectrum which often has a deeper root cause. Whether it is hormonal, genetic, or related to bio-chemical imbalance or past traumas, mental health challenges in our society today needs to be acknowledged.
5 Ways travelling can boost mental health
It's no secret that travel is great for your physical well-being, but a large amount of scientific research suggests that visiting a new place can also do wonders for your mental and emotional health.
Here are five evidence backed ways that travelling can freshen your mind into happiness and health:
1. Travelling can broaden our perspective:
moving to a new location, whether nearby or far, brings us out of our comfort zone. Whether experiencing a new way of life in a foreign country or trying a new local dish for the first time, travelling will open our minds (and stomachs) to a whole new way of life and being in the world.
Everything we see is different, and that brings out our inner explorer. Navigating through foreign streets and lands requires a different state of awareness and acceptance than what we’re used to. Seeing different cultures and different ways of living in the world can open our eyes to alternative models of reality that can broaden our horizons. We may see how hill-up villagers in Kurdistan can live peacefully with no electricity or internet. We may come across an old beaten path that leads to the most breathtaking view.
2. Emotional Resilience.
Moving and living somewhere where we feel excited and nervous at the same time will help strengthen us both mentally and emotionally. I couldn't see myself travelling and living in foreign lands when I was in my early twenties, now it is such a natural part of my year that, I sometimes forget I’m travelling.
Often, facing challenges in an unfamiliar environment, between new people, requires an ability to learn and adapt to a life beyond our comfort zone. It makes us more versatile, compassionate and emotionally powerful. Travel has taught me patience to surrender power to the uncontrollable and powerful.
3. Stress Relief:
travel helps us to reset our minds and forget about our responsibilities and workloads back home and instead; we can concentrate on the present moment. Having a shortlist of enjoyable day-to-day events on our travel agenda will bring excitement and change in the form of new people, sights and experiences. I notice that after coming back from a trip, I'm a better sister, a better mother, a better wife, and a better employee because I was able to break away from my stress-related daily tasks and clear my head and heart.
“To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries”.
4. Travelling Increases Creative Imagination:
plunging into new places with unknown sights and sounds can boost our creativity. Creativity is directly related to neuroplasticity (the brain's ability to reorganize itself through the formation of new neural connections during life), which means that our brains are responsive to change, affected by new environments and experiences.
Through modifying our climate, we can form new neuronal pathways that improve our creativity. That's probably why I take ample notes and pictures when I’m travelling around. Down to my heart, I am a creative spirit. I focus on great architecture, painting, music, and reading.
5. Travelling is Transformational.
Writer Patrick Rothfuss said, "More can be gained from you than from a hundred years of peace." Experiential journeys, particularly to foreign countries, will allow you to reappraise and reinvent your existence. "When you can, the journey will stretch you're mind in a way that you've never learned," says Valerie Wilson, the solo travel specialist and Trusted Travel Girl's founder.
The valuable lessons we learn along the way broaden our outlook, increase awareness, and allow us to become more open to new things. "I love to go to places with different cultures because they push you to think about yourselves," says Jacintha Verdegaal, an avid traveler and founder of travel and lifestyle blog, Urban Pixxels.
“We cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are.”