from Henry Moore
Sometimes humans can become creatures of habit. The idea of branching out and going new places, meeting new people, and seeing different things can feel daunting and even scary. But there’s a good reason to look past these feelings and travel anyways. As it turns out, getting out of your comfort zone can actually improve your mental health.
And Americans, now more than ever, need to do things that help promote a healthy mindset. 1 in 5 adults suffer from a mental health condition. We are overworked and under-pleasured. Furthermore, half of the working population in the United States does not take advantage of the few vacation days they have. But traveling can help… here’s how.
Reintroduce Fun into Your Life
Things really can be as simple as “you need to have more fun.” If you’re overworked and tired, chances are staying at home in bed is only going to feed into those emotions. Often, to feel refreshed and motivated we need to be active and participate in our lives.
There’s nothing better than traveling and taking some time to break out of the ordinary to have some fun. The key is finding a way to incorporate travel into your lifestyle that works for you. For instance, if the idea of flying and dealing with airlines stresses you out, there’s no rule stating you have to fly to experience something new. Driving a few hours out of town for a day of fun can be just as refreshing as sprinting across the pond for a European romp. Do what sounds fun to you, not what is deemed cool or trendy by societal standards.
Break Your Routine
While humans generally thrive from routine, too much of it can make life feel stale and complacent. Depressed people tend to get bogged down in the same thought patterns that make them feel like nothing can change, so mirroring that mindset in your lifestyle can’t be healthy. Breaking out of the routine by going somewhere different and trying new things can give you the needed break that grants a change of perspective.
Travel Increases Mindfulness
When you are in an unfamiliar place, you tend to focus on the experience: the sights, sounds, smells, and general life force that makes this new place different than your usual. That attention to the present is mindfulness, which is a key to mental health. Whether you’re trying to keep your wits about you in a new urban environment or losing yourself in the sounds of the ocean waves crashing against the beach, taking a vacation can put you in the moment in a healthy way.
That said, if the thought of traveling to unknown territories is too terrifying, don’t throw the idea away altogether. Increasing your mindfulness through travel has enormous benefits, especially for those who struggle with mental health issues or substance abuse. Instead of going alone, consider traveling with your best human or pet friend to give you an added sense of security and familiarity, while still breaking away to improve mindfulness and reduce stress.
Boost Your Confidence
Doing something new and exciting is the perfect way to build self-confidence. Traveling the way you want to, to a place you’ve always been dying to see, will help you see the value in your ideas and desires while giving you a sense of accomplishment once you get there. All people need a confidence boost now and then, but those who are dealing with mental health issues can particularly benefit from the increased self-esteem.
Increase Exercise and Vitamin D
When you travel, you naturally walk more and spend extra time outdoors. Even a small boost of exercise-induced endorphins and vitamin D-rich sunshine can improve your mood. So go ahead and sign up for kayak lessons or get lost trying to figure out the public transportation system– it’s good for you!
Americans are suffering from mental illness struggles more than ever, yet they are also not taking advantage of one of the things that can help: vacation time. Traveling helps break the routine and reintroduces fun into your life. It boosts confidence and gives you a much needed dose of endorphins and vitamin D to improve your move. Taking advantage of your vacation days is a great way to take care of your mind so you can be more productive when you get back to work, and be happier in your life overall.