Mental Health Benefits of Travel

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when I say ‘travel’ – a holiday? Meeting new people? Or maybe, Instagrammable sunsets? While travelling can be exciting and exhilarating, it’s so much more than sipping margaritas on a sun-soaked beach.

Taking a holiday and having a change of scenery, even if it is just a couple of hours down the road, can work wonders, and it has been scientifically proven that travel provides a number of benefits to your mental health. 

With the rise of the Instagram generation, visibility of travelling has never been more prominent. As influencers promote the travelling lifestyle, more young people want to mimic it. This and the increased awareness in mental health issues has led to a number of the younger generation taking extended time out to travel and find themselves. 

You don’t have to take a gap year for this, just one trip away could help change your outlook on life for the better — here are a few reasons why it may be worth packing your suitcase.

It Increases Happiness

This might seem like a no-brainer after all that stress-busting, creativity-inducing, and perspective-shifting, but travel can lead to a happier and more satisfying life. This benefits your relationships, your mental and physical well-being, and reduces your chance of fatigue and depression. It can boost your productivity and lift your mood, helping you go back to normal life refreshed and invigorated.

The effects of travel are not only felt during and after your trip but the anticipation of an upcoming trip can boost your mood. After all, don’t we all look forward to our next holiday? People are at their happiest when they have a holiday planned, a study by the University of Surrey found, and are also more positive about their health, economic situation and general quality of life. 

Stress Relief

While the idea of travelling might seem like a source of stress itself — booking hotels and flights, sitting in the airport, and figuring out plans once you’re there — travel is actually proven to decrease stress. It pulls you out of your day to day routines, getting you away from sources of stress and anxiety. Whether your main stressors are work, keeping up with a home, or something else entirely, a break in your routine will help you recover and gain perspective.

It’s common knowledge that stress isn’t healthy, but you might not know its full ramifications. While our culture often glorifies busyness and stress, they can lead to devastating health effects. Stress has a proven connection to physical illnesses like heart disease and diabetes and mental illnesses like depression and anxiety. It’s important to find a way to proactively manage stress in your daily life, but travelling at least once a year can help by giving you something to plan for and look forward to while giving you a break to relax and replenish.

Stay Fit and Healthy

Physical exercise is known to improve mental wellbeing and is one of the first things that will be prescribed to anyone with mental health issues. Therefore, combining the positive effects of travelling with exercise is a no brainer. 

In addition to decreasing stress and helping you lose weight by getting you moving, travel has been proven to decrease major health risks. Travel lowers men’s risk of death by 21% and mortality from cardiovascular disease by 32%. 

Those numbers make travel seem less like a luxury and more like a health necessity. Travel is also proven to benefit your immune system by exposing you to a higher variety of germs and pathogens, making you more resistant to viruses and infections.

Change in Perspective 

Experiencing different cultures can open your eyes to new ways of living. Something as simple as learning a new recipe or changing the way you spend your downtime can have a dramatic effect on your wellbeing. Travel can lead you to question and challenge the norms of everyday life at home, potentially inspiring you to make positive changes.

Having these experiences can bring perspective to existing problems. This can include experiences such as riding in tuk-tuks, where drivers often overtake buses on blind corners, dodged death-wish pedestrians and get cut up by countless motorbikes. The drivers of these tuk-tuks stay calm and take it in their stride, as did other road users, as their perspective on problems is different. Despite the chaos, everyone was calm. This contrasts road rage of western drivers and shows this behaviour helps nobody. Try to apply this lesson to life at home: you cannot control the actions of others – only the way you respond to them.

How Can You Reap The Benefits After Returning From The Trip?

You should hold on to aspects of your travelling experiences or memories of a holiday that was pleasurable. For example, if you liked the food in Paris, learn how to cook French food in order to re-create some of the feelings you had while you were on vacation. Another behavioural intervention is to remember the peaceful moments you had on vacation and try to remember what was different from your present life. Maybe you took the time to eat breakfast, maybe you exercised. Those things are crucial reminders of what we should do every day. 

Before You Go…

If you are going on holiday, you’ll have better peace of mind if all of your documents are ready. Be aware of countries that may need visas. Paperwork can be a mess but luckily these days, countries such as Oman will offer an Oman E-Visa, so it can all be done online before you go. Even Canada is offering a form of electronic visa through a Canada eTA. Make sure you get down to your Birmingham travel agents and book an exciting trip. 

Make sure that all your travel documents are in order, with your passport being valid with 6 months left on it before you travel. Research where you are travelling, looking into the culture and dress code that is acceptable so you can enjoy your trip without any complications. 

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