On average, you will most likely spend 1/3 of your lifetime at work. It is undoubtedly then a huge factor that affects your personal life. Other than work, aspects such as relationships, mundane tasks, and other day-to-day issues and concerns can slowly pick away at your mental health and sometimes leave you feeling exhausted, worn or like you’re stuck in a rut.
Taking a break from the daily hustle and having the chance to go explore, unwind and escape the busyness of life every now and then has been scientifically proven to do wonders not only physically but also and most especially on your mental and emotional wellbeing.
Here are some of the reasons why traveling helps improve your mental health:
Traveling is a stress buster.
Taking a vacation helps alleviate the stresses of everyday life. And it doesn’t even have to be the fancy ones, even short holidays can give you your much-needed break and relaxation.
Multiple studies have shown that taking leisure trips actively lowers the body’s stress hormones, making you feel calmer and relaxed. It unplugs your mind off stressful situations, clears your head, and in effect allows more room for productivity and creativity to flow.
Director of the Center for Cultural Studies and Analysis Dr. Margaret J. King explains the psychological benefits of traveling to our over-all well-being saying that
“With a shortlist 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. Humans thrive on novelty, and travel offers the complete package with new faces, sounds and sights.”
Consider taking local trips over the weekend or an overnight staycation in your city. Not only will it relieve your stress, but you might also be surprised to know how much wonder your city actually holds.
Traveling opens the doors to new experiences.
Whether it be a swim with dolphins, a heart-pumping amusement ride, seeing world-famous structures, or meeting locals and learning their culture, setting foot in a new destination always offers the opportunity to try new things and leave you with new experiences.
These experiences can really be eye-opening and help you appreciate the beauty of life and living. The experiences you accumulate during your travels get embellished in your memory and you can always fondly look back at them as every travel story gets richer over time. As the famous line goes, “Life is short and the world is wide.” Make the most out of it while you can and let it revitalize your mind.
Traveling strengthens relationships.
While traveling alone is a feat in itself, traveling with the people you love and care about gives you another sense of fulfillment and satisfaction. Seeing new places and sharing experiences with a partner, a group of friends or your family toughens the existing bond and relationship between each other.
It is said that “couples who travel together, stay together” and we couldn’t agree more! Traveling is revealing. When you travel with your partner, you get to know them at a deeper level. You build a history with them through places and encounters and together you grow.
Traveling with friends and/or family brings both parties closer. You accumulate experiences, laugh together, and spend quality time with each other. It provides a way for people to reconnect and make up for the time lost spent dealing with the daily hustle and bustle of life.
Traveling creates new perspectives.
Since traveling introduces you to a new set of environments, it may give you a fresher, newer and beneficial change of perspective on things. The feeling of being pulled out of your usual, day-to-day scene and taken to a whole new world opens up your eyes and mind to the fact that there is so much more out there waiting to be seen, explored, and discovered.
Jetting off to new places broadens your mind and allows you to see the world in a different light. Meeting new people and having the chance to be immersed in another culture can bring upon the realization that there is also life outside your 8-5 job or the four corners of your home.
According to Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, an associate professor of education and psychology at the University of Southern California, cross-cultural experiences during travels help shape a person’s sense of self,
“The ability to engage with people from different backgrounds than yourself, and the ability to get out of your own social comfort zone, is helping you to build a strong and acculturated sense of your own self.”
Use your vacation days. Annual leave days are created for a reason, and if you think you can’t have a proper holiday with only 20 allotted annual leave days, think again. You can actually enjoy up to 48 holidays days per year, and we have written a guide on how to maximise your leave that might be a helpful read.
Traveling boosts mental resiliency.
As exciting and wonderful as it sounds, traveling also has its own challenges. Sometimes, things happen; rooms get fully booked, or you accidentally took the wrong public transport. Which is why it is important to plan ahead of your travels. Book a room ahead of time, install navigation tools or research about your chosen destination.
Although planning really well doesn’t 100% guarantee that you won’t run into any difficulties during your travel, it sharpens your mind enough to force you to think of ways to solve any issues that may come your way.
Unfamiliar environments help push you out of your comfort zone. It may sound intimidating but it helps toughen up your mental, emotional and even physical attributes. Coming out of a difficult situation during a trip gives you a sense of achievement and makes you feel more confident that if you can overcome such challenges, then you can patiently and gracefully deal with larger issues moving forward.
Traveling is an act of self-care. It is essential for our physical, emotional and mental well-being. Too often we become too busy making a living that we forget that life happens now and we could be missing it. Invest in experiences, spend time with your loved ones, and you’ll come out healthier and happier in the long run.
This year, make it a goal to give yourself a well-deserved break once in a while.
Live life, make memories, and go out to create new adventures!