Traveling can offer much more than a dream vacation. It can support your mental health. Hit the road, take to the sky, or float the water to boost your mental wellness.
Note that if you are or a loved one is experiencing mental health concerns, please reach out for help. Licensed mental health professionals are available to offer advice, as well as effective, personalized treatment.
Your Mental Health: 18 Reasons to Venture Out
- Stress relief: Taking a break from daily routines and having the chance to relax and recharge can ease the stress that can be harmful to mental and physical health.
- A break from constant technology use: Traveling can give us the opportunity for a vacation from screens. Cutting back on the blue light emitted from screens and limiting the demands of a constant stream of communications and information can help relax us and ease our minds, as well as our eyes and muscles.
- A change of scenery: Venturing away from home can offer a break from the monotony and other negative feelings that may be associated with depression.
- New perspectives: Travel is an excellent way for us to see other perspectives, which in turn can help us strengthen our own sense of perspective and consider alternative ways of thinking and being.
- Enhanced creativity: Exploring other places and their cultures, whether near or far, can spark creative ideas. Engagement and new stimuli can “awaken” the brain.
- Treasured traditions: Traveling to a beloved place or making a tradition of trips with friends or family can boost oxytocin, the neurotransmitter that impacts pro-social behaviors, emotional responses, and group memories. Oxytocin may reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.
- New explorations: Exploring new places can help you open your mind, spark excitement, and get you out of your comfort zone so you can experience growth.
- Positive after-effects: Enjoy reduced feelings of stress and increased feelings of happiness after a trip.
- Confidence boost: Getting out of our comfort zone and taking on new places can help us feel more confident and independent.
- Increased empathy and decreased self-absorption: Visiting other places and seeing other people can help us remember that the world is bigger than ourselves. We can grow our sense of empathy—the ability to understand what others are feeling. Empathy is linked with mental wellness.
- Activating behavior: Engaging in activities can improve mood and ease feelings of isolation that are often associated with depression.
- Experiences rather than things: Experiences tend to have a higher correlation with happiness than things do. So, try setting aside the “stuff” in favor of the experience of travel.
- A break from the winter blues or seasonal affective disorder: Feelings of depression associated with winter and darker days can be relieved with a trip to a sunny locale.
- Connections with nature: Spending time in nature can boost mental health.
- The power of water: Being near water can put us in a calm, meditative state, easing stress and anxiety.
- Gratitude: Getting away can help clear the mind and allow us to increase our feelings of gratitude not only for the trip, but also for other areas of life. Gratitude—feeling thanks for what we have—helps us see and appreciate the good rather than focusing on the negative or challenging.
- Anticipation: The act of planning a trip and having something to look forward to can increase motivation and boost mood long before traveling.
- Increased productivity: Often, with a better mood comes increased productivity. And the cycle can continue: with better productivity, happiness tends to increase. Taking a break from work—whether in an office, workplace, or at home—can help you re-set and be more productive when you return.
Tips for Taking Care of Your Mental Health While Traveling:
- Be mentally prepared for some of the challenges of traveling, like crowds and delays. Try to be familiar with using stress management tools you can use on the go, such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation.
- Bring the right amount of any medication you might need, plus extra in the event of delays.
- Check in with loved ones at home if it makes you feel less stressed.
- Take advantage of accessible, convenient, professional online therapy if you need to connect with a licensed mental health professional.
- Schedule down time and enough time for healthy sleep and meals.
A vacation can be a fun break from the grind and also offer profound mental health benefits. Try planning a trip, whether near or far, to increase happiness, boost productivity, lower stress, relax, and refresh. Plan, pack, and go for a happy, healthy getaway.