Remember that rejuvenating feeling after you return from a holiday? That glowy skin and new, more relaxed and optimistic outlook on life that traveling gives you. And a couple of new habits that you adopt along the way, such as getting up earlier, getting ready faster and being more active and outdoorsy than in your usual day-to-day life. It is no wonder that more and more people are leaving their careers for more free and adventurous ones that include travel as a job description. Meeting new cultures and adopting new perspectives clearly makes us more relaxed, grounded and more open to new ideas. The list that follows focuses on some of the most significant effects of travel on our mental wellbeing.
Travel Gets Your Body and Mind Moving
There is nothing like a change of scenery to get us moving and exploring. There is always another sight we want to see, another beach, a restaurant or a shopping mall and in most cases we are not even aware of how much we are walking as the adrenaline keeps us tireless. We are all familiar with how beneficial walking and moving around in the fresh air is to our general health and fitness, however our mind profits from it as well. In addition to our brain getting enough oxygen, walking makes us overall more aware and rejuvenated.
If you want to reap the fullest benefits of walking as a means of traveling and exploration, and all that this activity can do for your body and mind, why not go on a walking holiday? Routes such as the Camino the Santiago (which I have now walked twice) are a great way to get to know a country, get your steps in, and reboot.
Travel Boosts Creativity
You know how you get that sudden rush of new creative ideas after you return from a vacation? Whether it’s home decoration, new work ideas or a total wardrobe makeover, your mind is overflowing with ideas. As this study shows, traveling and experiencing different cultures increases our creativity. Getting involved in a different way of living helps us see a different perspective, which results in adopting new approaches to problem solving. As we break our learned routine, it allows for the faster overcoming of creative blockages and adoption of new productivity schemes.
If you are looking to boost your creativity, the best thing you can do is explore museums, libraries, architecture and cuisine. This will get your mind moving in a different way, and you will start thinking differently and not even notice.
Travel Reduces Stress
No matter if you belong to the wanderlust group of passionate travelers or enjoy your once or twice a year trip to a familiar place by the sea, travel helps you fight stress and other mental health problems. As a 2013 study indicates, even a short trip prevents the risk of stress and stress-induced diseases. Just the physical absence from work and your everyday life makes you feel more relaxed, mindful and appreciative of the little and good things in life.
Try to plan a trip every couple of months – even if it is just a day trip, and you will not allow the stress to build up so much that you need to take yourself to the other side of the world to shake it.
Travel Makes You More Open-Minded
Immersing yourself in different cultures makes you more prone to being receptive and empathetic. As you adapt to new settings, you inevitably become more open to new ideas and different ways of doing things. New dimensions of understanding open you up and it results in a non-judgmental respect for others’ opinions, perspectives, choices and lifestyles.
Visit a country you have never been to before, where you don’t speak the language, and see how it will help you embrace new histories and cultures. You might even pick up a few local expressions and recipes to take home with you.
Travel Improves Your Confidence
Finding your way in an unfamiliar place, especially if you are traveling alone can significantly boost your confidence. We are all familiar with the idea that happiness is outside of our comfort zone. Traveling is the best and most enjoyable way to put this to the test. It forces us to talk to strangers and take part in different activities in public which allows us to be more outgoing and assertive. As we explore new physical horizons, we are also learning about the different aspects of ourselves and of human nature in general. Learning how to rely on ourselves we unavoidably become stronger and more independent, and our confidence and self-esteem increase as a consequence.
Becca is an interpreter and traveler, living the nomad lifestyle. Since she has had to adapt to living on the road, she is always in search of new mindfulness practices and yoga poses that can help her unwind and survive the jet lag. You can find her on Twitter here.