I was born to travel.
It’s something I’ve known for as long as I can remember. What I didn’t know until I was much older is just how inextricably linked it is to my mental health, and how necessary it is for my happiness.
10 mental health benefits of travel:
- Physical activity. Simply put, traveling equals movement. Most people walk more and are generally more active on vacation, providing a hormone boost that improves mental health as well.
- Reduces stress, anxiety, and lowers the risk of depression. Travel offers an escape from daily chaos. That feeling of calm allows your body to exhale and your mind to relax and heal.
- Self-discovery. One of the best ways to learn about and get to know yourself is to travel. It’s a way to identify what you want, what you need, and who you want to connect with the world around you. Being out of your comfort zone allows you to look closely at who you are and, if you allow it, can reshape you into a new version of yourself.
- Creativity and inspiration. Being surrounded by new places, people, and ideas inspires creativity. Travel (international travel, in particular) offers a lifetime of experiences that can become a lasting source of inspiration. It’s a creative high that can last for several weeks after returning home.
- New experiences and new people. Visiting new places, meeting new people, and being on an adventure increases dopamine levels (the happiness chemical in the brain). It also heightens feelings of empathy toward others and can help decrease feelings of general frustration.
- Improved productivity at work. Taking time off reduces burnout and provides higher levels of engagement and productivity when you return. 94% of the 400 respondents to a Harvard Business Review travel study reported having as much or more energy when returning to work.
- One of the many gifts of experiencing other cultures and places is realizing that people at their core are more alike than they are different. Regardless of background, culture, nationality, or faith, individual and communal well-being is essential. Gaining insight into how other people across the world seek and achieve wellbeing can help put your own problems into perspective. Seeing it all through fresh eyes allows you to find ways to grow, overcome obstacles, and achieve your own happiness.
- Boosts confidence. Rolling with the ups and downs of travel days, learning to navigate a new city, and embracing another culture takes confidence. Leaving your comfort zone for a unique experience is not easy. Travel encourages you to trust yourself, sharpen your decision-making skills, and realize that you really can do it.
- Greater appreciation for others. In 2018, the Harvard Business Review noted that people who traveled to more countries developed a greater tolerance and trust of strangers. This shift in perspective followed them home and helped alter their behavior toward strangers, colleagues, and friends. Travelers tend to be more appreciative of people with new knowledge, philosophies, and skills. They are also more willing to take the time to listen and learn from those with new or differing views.
- It’s fun!