Can Travel Boost Your Mental Health?
You’re standing along the banks of the Seine River in France, peering out at the golden glow that illuminates the Eiffel Tower after the sun fades.
You’re sitting on the Spanish Steps in Rome, with a cool chocolate gelato in hand, as life happens in the midst of the square.
You’re floating in the Caribbean Sea as the palm trees sway in Aruba’s warm breeze, feeling at peace in that very moment.
You’re walking around the quaint streets of Nantucket, passing by the grey shingled cottages; New England in the summertime is vibrant with beauty and comfort.
Whether I have a Parisian fantasy, or yearn for a cozy beachside getaway, my itch to go somewhere resurfaces every so often. Travel provides an escape from the daily grind and typical routine.
Visiting another location is not only an eye-opener into interesting history and culture, but it also serves as a reprieve for the mind. Plus, according to various articles, it’s been noted how travel actually expands the mind as well.
“Traveling allows the mind to expand and literally see the world in a new and different way,” Sarah Jensen, a travel consultant, wrote. She advocates that traveling allows for flexibility; while you may plan your trip to a T, there’s always an unpredictable component in the nature of these rendezvous.
Changes and detours in schedule, if necessary, must be accommodated, and honing in on map skills stimulates the thinking process.
Seeing things in a “proper perspective” is another valuable benefit on Jensen’s list. Sometimes it takes witnessing others’ anguish first-hand, to reframe your perceptions.
“When people view others in similar or worse situations, they tend to realize that their problems are no longer as daunting as they may have earlier believed,” Jensen said. “This greatly helps in reducing any stress or depression that may be lingering in the body.”
Certain destinations may also incorporate language barriers, where communicating your needs could be challenging. Jensen notes that a person learns to be patient, a quality that vacationing enforces.
Dr. Jack Bennett, a life coach who discusses travel in this post, offers further insight into the positive correlation between traveling and mental health. Travel “interrupts your assumptions and habitual patterns.”
Tourist attractions are a great way to see what all the hype is about, but he relishes “the little ordinary things that are different.”
“When I’m visiting a new country, I get most curious about doing everyday things, like going to the supermarket, getting a cup of coffee, taking public transportation or just walking down the street,” Bennett said.
Aside from acquiring a break from the familiarities of daily life, travel broadens the mind and encourages growth.
Bennett even suggests that the experiences of meeting all kinds of people demonstrate that we aren’t as different from each other as we may presume. We see others who’ve established close and meaningful relationships, and who want to pursue work and leisure they enjoy.
“Whether a little bit different, or a lot different, English-speaking or not, expensive or inexpensive, different places are all populated by people who want pretty much the same things,” Bennett said.
Suval, L. (2013). Can Travel Boost Your Mental Health?. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 3, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/05/27/can-travel-boost-your-mental-health/