Why Travel is Good For Your Mental Health
Mental health awareness has come to the forefront of peoples’ minds – and for good reason. More and more people have seen the importance of obtaining and maintaining good mental well-being. Stress and anxiety can wreak havoc on one’s life if left unchecked. Fortunately, there is a good and effective way to combat this: mindful travel.
6 Reasons Why Travel is Good for Your Mental Health
Combats the effects of stress
While stress is a fact of life, having too much is not good. Thankfully, one of the best ways to fight the adverse effects of stress is traveling. A study done on corporate middle managers showed that a short vacation had an immediate and significant positive impact. The study also found out that the effects even lasted for up to 30 days after the vacation. This goes to show that just the act of spending time away from work reduces the ill effects of stress.
Decreases your risk of depression
There is compelling evidence that time away from work lowers incidences of depression. A study with working women as respondents found that every 10 days of additional paid vacation lowers the odds of depression by as much as 29%. The odds even go as much as 38% for women with two or more children.
Boosts your creativity
Having time away from work also boosts creativity. The time off from the mundane and familiar stimulates our brains in positive ways. Exposure and immersion in foreign cultures force your brain to process unfamiliar information. This helps us to think about things from new perspectives. This ultimately promotes creative thinking and mental and cognitive flexibility.
Increases your productivity
A good trip can also increase your productivity when you return. A study done by Harvard Business Review found that as much as 94% of the respondents reported having more energy after coming back from the trip. However, this is dependent on several factors. The trip must be well thought out and planned at least a month in advance. The trip should also be as far away from your home as much as possible.
Helps to recalibrate your life
Time away is a perfect chance to refocus and recalibrate our lives and how we spend our time and energy. Modern human culture and way of life can become overwhelming. Keeping up often causes more stress which makes us double down on catching up dooming us to a vicious cycle. A proper trip helps us take a step back and have a much-needed breather. This then helps us find our center and focus to start anew. Pro tip: journaling along the way can help as well.
New experiences make us more attentive
Our brains often align with routine. Because the brain is constantly trying to conserve energy, it often runs on autopilot when doing a familiar task or activity, which ultimately causes you to disengage with the present world around you. A break from your daily routines stimulates your brain to be more attentive to details. This effect lasts long after you get back from the trip.
6 Tips to make your travels more mindful
Now that you know the mental health benefits of traveling, here are a few ways to make your trips more mindful.
Try new things
A study published in 2020 shows that new experiences release dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a “reward hormone” that makes us feel happy and fulfilled. Trying new things lets you get the most out of your vacation helping you to reap all the benefits. You can start by trying out new food, meeting locals, exploring the locale on foot, or joining social and cultural events.
Incorporate Physical Activity
Physical activity and exercises releases the ‘happy hormones,’ which can improve your mood. On your next trip, consider more physically engaging activities like hiking, camping, or canoeing among others. Good exercise not only helps your physical health, it also can also help improve your mental health and wellness immensely.
Try Meditation and Breathwork
Meditation and breathwork have been shown to have positive effects on our mental well-being. They also help reduce the effects of stress and anxiety. Incorporating this in your vacation can maximize the positive benefits of the trip. Pro tip: if you are new to all this and don’t know where to start, going on a guided trip—like this trip from Recal—is a good place to start.
Disconnect once in a while
Technology has made us more connected than ever. Because of the ease and ubiquity, it can be difficult to disconnect. Taking your attention away from social media during your trip lets you give your undivided focus to your experience. This removes any unnecessary distractions and allows you to enjoy your trip fully.
Choose naturally quiet places
Noise pollution has a huge impact on our quality of life. The city noise worsens stress and can affect many aspects of our lives such as the quality of sleep we are getting. Going on a trip to quiet parks like the Glacier National Park or the Hoh Rainforest lets you get away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Keep a Journal
If you don’t already have a journaling practice, a trip is the perfect time to start one. You can begin with guided journaling with prompts and thought-provoking questions. A gratitude practice is also a proven way to rewire your brain toward positivity and optimism. And while you’re on the trip, each day you can write down the highlights, which allows the brain to relive the experience.
There are many reasons why traveling can be good for your mental health. And beyond that, we at Recal have experienced ways to tactically and consciously get the most mental health benefits from traveling. If you’re interested in a mindful adventure trip from Recal, you can view the trip options here. Have fun and be safe out there!