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Why do people leave their homes and navigate all over the globe? The answer is not that straightforward: there are mixed reasons why people travel and those reasons are invariably personal. For instance, I have been travelling over the years because I feel it is the best way to treat myself. But I see travel more than just a means of rewarding myself. It also a means for me to improve my well-being. Yes, we can derive mental health benefits from travelling.
1. It enhances your ability to be spontaneous
There is such as thing as ‘going on holidays’ and then there is ‘travelling’. They are not the same: the difference is that when you go on a holiday you have a limited time. Whereas travelling entails planning to go somewhere, whereby you are more free and are more spontaneous.
Think about it: you are on your way to the museum and see a local market and decide to stay there and enjoy the market. Or in a restaurant you start a talk with your neighbours at the table next to you they invite you back to their village for a tour in an ancient castle.
By enjoying these spontaneous activities you learn to be more in the moment instead of stressing out about keeping your plan.
2. It allows you to learn how to communicate with strangers
When you are travelling be it by yourself, with someone else, or in a group you get to interact with new people. You get to meet people from different culture and background. This can broader your view of the world. It can also make you less anxious to talk to the nice next door neighbour who immigrated from Curacao to your country.
3. It lowers your stress level
Researchers explain that travelling plays an important role in our lives for both stress reduction and personal happiness. When you are travelling, it seems that you have all the time in the world. So a delayed bus or train is no problem. When you experience this through travel, it makes you less stress out if the train in your home country is five minutes late and you have to get to your appointment.
You put the delay in perspective against the two hours you waited in Cuba on the bus to pick you up to go to the next town.
4. Travelling can boost your confidence
Travel Soul Therapy explains that ‘going away from home to travel has a potential to increase self-confidence. It is a process of increasing self-knowledge where you can be a participant and a researcher of your own inner process of growth and increasing awareness.’
When you travel, especially when you are alone you get to make choices and experience things which are unexpected, but not avoid. When you go through these experiences you gain confidence which you get to keep with you for the rest of your life. In turn, this can make you more confident.
5. Travelling allows you to get to know yourself better
When you travel you get to experience all kinds of things that you don’t experience at home. These experiences and choices you make in them makes you who you are. By acknowledging these experiences, you react on them and you get to know yourself better. You may find it ironic but travelling can actually help us lose ourselves.
And in this space of loss, we are come across with a precious experience to discover more about ourselves for ourselves, to get to know ourselves better as us, not just as others do.
6. Travelling means relaxation, both physically and mentally
I already touched this subject with how an experience on travel can lower your daily stress by thinking about the experience. But there are more ways how travel, especially holidays, can lower your stress. By going on holidays you take a break from your daily life and the daily stress from work, family, etc. that you have to deal with.
Taking a break from stress is good, because your heart rate drops, your mind gets empty. This is when you leave the daily thoughts about what you have to do at home and enjoy the beach or the walk you are taking at that moment at your holiday destination.
7. Travelling allows you to shift your perspective
By taking a break from your daily routine by travelling or going on holiday. You take a break from your daily environment and habits. You get to create new habits and also some distance from your daily life, which means that you can get another look on daily life of things happening in your life.
I know there are more mental health benefits that we can get from travelling so please share them by leaving comments below.
Guiselaine Capella is one of the creators of the app Reality Keeper. Guiselaine is also involved on other projects that support the well-being of mental health patients.