Is travel a luxury or a necessity when it comes to your well-being?
It’s easy to joke about “needing” a tropical beach and margarita in hand on a stressful day, but what can travel really do for our mental health? Travel, when done thoughtfully, can bring many benefits, including stress relief, a creativity boost and an opportunity to reinvent yourself.
In daily life, there are plenty of obligations and to-do lists.
On the other hand, travel reduces stress and anxiety due to the simple fact of literally leaving behind the things that stress you out – demands on the job, cleaning the house and maybe even your evil nemesis.
According to Dr. Margaret J. King: “There are lots of psychological benefits from change of venue from home and work to ‘third places’ devoted to just experiencing the environment. ... 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.”
So next time you’re feeling stressed out, book that flight or fill up your tank.
Another aspect unique to traveling is the increase of creativity through new experiences. It’s very common to fall into routine. The trouble, however, is when the routine changes to a rut. To put it simply, travel brings that spark back. But don’t just take my word for it. The smart people over at the Huffington Post say: “Neural pathways are influenced by environment and habit. … New sounds, smells, language, tastes, sensations and sights spark different synapses in the brain and may have the potential to revitalize the mind.”
Travel pulls you out of everyday situations and opens your eyes to the entire world around you, revealing that there is more to life than the everyday worries. There is a beautiful orchestra of a world out there and the world you know is just one instrument to the symphony.
As if it couldn’t get any better, travel also stirs up self-reflection by directly placing you in situations that are different than your “normal world,” suddenly being exposed to different experiences, languages, cultures and ideologies.
Here’s what a professional world traveler named Verdegaal says about experiencing travel differences: “Different is not better or worse; it’s just different. But being confronted with these differences helps me to reevaluate my own principles and values and, sometimes, change them.”
Travel inspires reevaluation of your current beliefs, relationships and experiences, which, in turn, bring a fresh perspective to tired old problems.
If you’re looking for ways to bring anxiety down, increase creativity and reinvent yourself, then it’s time to pack your bags. Plan that vacation because your mental health needs it. Who knew that changing your life could be as simple as packing a bag to Pismo?
To sum it all up, writer Patrick Rothfuss says it the best, “A long stretch of road can teach you more about yourself than a hundred years of quiet.”
Opinions expressed in this column are those of Sarena Hess.