It’s no secret that travel is great for your emotional and mental well-being. Sure, most of us understand at some level that traveling is a fun and enjoyable experience. The value of the travel industry reached 2.9 trillion dollars in December 2019, right before the pandemic changed things. People don’t spend that much money on something they don’t enjoy after all.
However, travel isn’t just something that makes us happy on the surface. It’s essential for our mental health as well. In cases where individuals are under severe stress or are experiencing anxiety disorders, it’s not uncommon for mental health experts to recommend vacations.
Travel can even help reverse and control the effects of trauma, including those related to drug and alcohol use disorders. Dallas Drug Treatment Centers, a substance rehab directory in North Texas, reports that inquiries for facilities and outpatient programs in other states or countries are fairly common, even during the pandemic.
Here are a few reasons to consider traveling for mental health reasons:
1.) It reduces stress and anxiety
Feeling stressed for a short period is normal. However, constantly experiencing it is usually a sign that something in your environment and your way of life has to change. Think about it this way: stress and anxiety your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong.
Constant stress puts a constant strain on both your mind and body, mainly due to the specific effects of stress hormones like cortisol. Elevated stress levels can be tolerable or even exhilarating. However, our bodies have not evolved to constantly be subjected to stress. Over time, it can cause several health problems, including heart diseases, hypertension, diabetes, and obesity.
It can also cause undesirable behaviors such as anger outbursts, indecisiveness, and stress eating. It is also associated with particularly nasty coping behaviors like drug and alcohol use. There is even strong evidence that chronic stress can literally cause brain damage and leave you at risk from Alzheimer’s and dementia.
The good thing is, you might not even need to use up your vacation days. Even leaving for the weekend may be enough to reduce stress. According to a 2013 study, over 80% of American respondents reported significant stress reduction after only a day or two of traveling.
2.) It can help you reassess your life
Taking some time off and traveling is usually necessary to provide the distance needed to gain a fresh perspective. While our lives may generally seem routine for the most part, virtually all of us experience physical and emotional changes over time. Our work and personal relationships tend to evolve, as do our feelings towards them.
However, these changes often happen too slowly for us to appreciate. Even though they might be good stress-busters, two-day weekends simply aren’t enough for most of us to develop a new perspective. It can be extremely difficult to have an honest top-down view of how our lives are going when we’re constantly focused on the next deliverables in both our personal and professional lives.
By taking some time off to travel, you can be more sure about your mental and emotional state and make the decisions needed to improve them, if necessary.
3.) New experiences help keep us happy
Modern life has caused many of us to sink into what is, for our species, an extremely routine way of life. Before the development of agriculture, most humans likely experienced a good deal of diversity in their day-to-day life as they traveled from place to place in search of safety and resources. Even before the modern era, most people did a wide variety of daily tasks, which often changed significantly with the seasons.
Today, few of us still experience the kind of lifestyles that our ancestors experienced. Unfortunately, our species has not evolved to keep pace with our increasingly hectic way of life. Ennui in literature and art was rare up until the age of industrialization, and today it is among the most common themes in contemporary media.
It’s clear that to be happy and well-adjusted, most of us need at least some variety. While there may be other ways to do it, regular travel is perhaps, one of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to ensure that we get the diversity of experiences we crave.
To be clear, taking regular vacations is not the only way that we could become happier, more introspective, and less stressed. However, it is perhaps not only the most enjoyable way to achieve those goals, but also the one with the most perks as well. Aside from the benefits above, travel also lets you experience other cultures, cuisines, and ways of life, all of which can help you grow as a person.
So if you have any paid time-off or vacation days available — take them! Your brain will probably thank you in a few years.