How to Revive Your Mind and Body with Travel
Americans typically get fewer vacation days compared to our European counterparts, and we’re also pretty bad about letting the days we have pile up unused. It’s time to break that trend. Taking those days and traveling is a huge boost to your mental health. So go ahead, take that vacation you’ve been dreaming of, and follow these tips to make the most of it.
How travel benefits your mental health
Travel is more than simply taking a vacation. If you immerse yourself in the experience and the place you visit, it’s also a form of education. Visiting a new place with different customs and culture gives you a new perspective on how other people live. Experiencing these different customs can even give you ideas of new stress-relieving habits you want to continue. USA Today gives the example of visiting a country where an afternoon siesta is a tradition. You may find that taking a siesta is a good way of relieving stress and recharging for the rest of your day. The new perspective you gain traveling is more than just experiencing differences. Travel also shows you how similar people are all over the world. Noticing these similarities helps break down cultural barriers, helping you feel more connected to the world and part of something bigger than yourself.
The simple act of getting away from our daily routines also helps us leave day-to-day stress behind. According to Healthy Travel Blog, travel is not only relaxing but is also intellectually stimulating. Even if you have a demanding job, the intellectual benefits of travel can’t be gained from routine tasks. Our brains are actually wired to find joy in experiencing something new, so the very act of travel stimulates that mental reward system. Of course, things don’t always go as planned when we travel, but even the stresses of travel can be good for us as long as the trip is enjoyable overall. Overcoming those travel mishaps actually gives your self-confidence a boost, which is another benefit you can take back home for lasting effects.
These mental health benefits are great for anyone, but they’re especially helpful for someone in recovery for addiction. Self-confidence and the ability to overcome obstacles are important skills for staying on the right track and preventing a relapse. Recovery is also a time when you’re rediscovering who you are. Travel can be a process of self-discovery that helps you along this track. As you see more of the world, with all of its differences AND similarities to what you know, you start to better understand your place in it.
How to make the most of your trip
The key to getting these lasting mental health benefits from travel is to embrace the experience and be intentional about keeping stressors away.
- Use this time away to tune in to yourself. Whether that means taking time to enjoy a hobby or simply meditating to recenter and be in the moment, use your travel time to truly focus on yourself.
- Tune out from daily stress. For many people that means limiting or turning off smart phones, especially social media. Do whatever you can to leave work at home so you can focus entirely on your travel experience.
- Get outdoors and get active. Physical activity and connecting with nature are two powerful stress relievers. One amazing travel spot where you can do both is Spain. With beaches, mountains, beautiful sights, and new discoveries to be made around every corner, there is no shortage of activities to get you up and moving.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that travel is what you make of it. Don’t simply go somewhere; connect with the local people and environment, and you’ll find that you connect with yourself too so you come home renewed, recharged and ready to take on the world.
Author Bio: Henry is the co-creator of FitWellTraveler. The site blends two of his favorite subjects (travel and health) to provide readers with information about how to get the most out of both.