I’m going to share my story with you dear reader, about how traveling is good for your mental health and how it has helped me. First things first, my official diagnosis is that I have bipolar disorder 2, generalized anxiety disorder, ADHD, and panic disorder. Quite the fun, I know. Living with a disability, even a mental disability can make traveling more difficult than the average traveler experiences.
Over the years I have traveled with many different neurotypical people. There were times during a trip when my disability held me back. My anxiety kept me from cliff jumping (what if I die. what if I hit a rock. what if I get the wind kicked out of me). Having a panic attack on the side of a mountain in Peru (this is it. this is how I die. I’m dying). Or going into a full-blown hypomanic episode in Hawaii. But my personal favorite *rolls eyes* is when I’m too damn depressed to even leave the hotel. So now let me tell you how traveling is good for your mental health.
How Traveling is Good for Your Mental Health
“Traveling for pleasure can contribute to subjective well-being because people have more opportunities to detach from their work environment, to experience new things, and to control what they want to do during vacations,” says Paul Simeone, Ph.D., Vice President and Medical Director of Behavioral Health with Lee Health. “There’s ample research to support that positive travel experiences can make a person healthier, can strengthen their relationships, and benefits their overall wellness.”
1. Travel can lower the risk of depression
Depression is one of the wonderful symptoms I get to experience from my bipolar disorder. When I was in the Dominican Republic I was so depressed I stayed in bed most of the time. Another time I was depressed, was when I was at a conference in Los Angeles. It was such a bad major depressive episode, I never made it to the conference or left my room.
According to a study by the National Library of Medicine; Women who take vacations more frequently are less likely to become tense, depressed, or tired. They are also more satisfied with their marriage. The psychological benefits from traveling lead to increased quality of life and may also lead to improved work performance.
2. Travel Reduces Job Burnout
In the last few years as COVID-19 turned the world upside down, people’s mental health has declined, and job burnout increased. Study shows that 53% of millennials were burned out pre-COVID, and they remain the most affected population with Gen Z right behind. Today, a whopping 59% experience job burnout.
As a result, companies are starting to become more flexible in scheduling, working remotely, or even more PTO. Giving people the opportunity to go on vacations to decompress, and spend more time with their families.
3. Traveling Makes You Resilient
We all know how wild traveling can get, as logistical hassles, travel delays, language barriers, and unforeseen expenses can offset the positive benefits of travel. But isn’t the uncertainty part of what makes traveling exciting? The obstacles that you overcome give you a sense of accomplishment, making you stronger and more resilient than ever.
How Travel is Good for Your Mental Health
4. Traveling makes you happier and healthier
According to UAB Medicine News, travel is also closely linked to brain health. Offering many cognitive benefits when you step outside your comfort zone and experience new people and places. Travel also tends to make people feel more reflective and introspective, perhaps to the point of reevaluating their goals and reinforcing their priorities.
5. Vacations Reduce Stress
Taking time from work to see new places and experience new things releases the stress you’ve been holding onto. You start to focus on the here and now, taking in your new surroundings rather than thinking about work, or other stressors. Giving your body and mind time to heal and help you feel calm.
6. Travel Regularly for Good Mental Health
According to WebMD making time for regular travel can have a better impact on your mental health. Going to different places regularly can improve the benefits you get from vacations. Some people can feel the positive impacts of their vacation for up to five weeks after their return.
7. Waterfalls Make You Happy
Waterfalls release negative ions into the air. According to scientific studies, negative ions increase the flow of oxygen to the brain which improves mood and reduces stress and anxiety. The sound of running water also aids in diminishing depression, increasing mental clarity, greater emotional stability, and an overall sense of well-being.