It’s Mental Health Awareness Week, and I thought it would be good to start talking about its special relation to travelling.
We know the scores, waking up at 6 am in a good mood only if we are about to jump on a plane, train, or car for the next holiday destination. It’s a fact. We do feel good when we travel.
My question is: Can travelling help your brain? My answer to it would be simply, yes, travelling is one of the experiences that can provide you with greater intensity and bring discoveries that can help you improve your mental health.
However, at the same time, our brain set a good mood mode when travelling, the whole process can be a bit stressful sometimes.
It happens because our brain seeks stability. Naturally, we tend to get used to environments, people, routines and all this predictability makes our lives safe and comfortable. This reflects in the formation of habits, in always choosing that dish at your favourite restaurant, buying clothes in known places, and so on.
The environment we are part of plays an important role in our behaviour. So, when we travel, we are basically going against the odds, changing our environment, and going to places that are not so predictable. It’s like you give your brain a stir to the point that it activates more for the days to come. You open yourself to newness. It naturally forces you out of your comfort zone.
You can also go on trips with specific goals like connecting with yourself or anything else you want. The important thing is to realize that being in a new environment and opening yourself up to new experiences will develop you and make you see yourself from a new angle.
Thinking about it making the most of travel benefits for our mental health, I have put together a list of emotional skills that can be stimulated during a trip:
I don’t know about you, but planning a travel itinerary is one of the most exciting tasks in life for me. It means a lot of work, but there is something about organising stays, tours, meals, budget, etc, that boosts my mood.
Also, communication in another language and meeting new people where you go are always an opportunity for you to develop the organisation and understand how it can help you in your day to day. Of course, aimless outings in new cities also have their charm.
It doesn’t matter how much you plan every detail of your trip; it is essential to make the most of it in a way that will be stress-free.
If you are willing to be flexible, change plans when necessary and know how to deal with unforeseen circumstances.
Flexibility is an essential trait for your emotional well-being. Situations that take you out of your comfort zone are great for stimulating the development of this competence. It is important to feel prepared to deal with unpredictable situations.
Learning to be flexible will be beneficial to your mental health in any situation anyways.
When we are planning our holidays, we always try to find new ways of packing smarter, budgeting our staying, and saving time when sightseeing. It is all about being creative enough to make the most of the whole experience, right?
When travelling, we also use our creativity to find ways of doing something new. From matching clothes to getting company for walks, testing new flavours, and having fun while not exceeding your budget. All of this requires a lot of creativity, and you can take the opportunity to think about how to bring this skill into your everyday life.
We will definitely be able to boost our self-confidence in these scenarios too. So, if you feel like it, go explore! Find a new spot to a place to eat and drink by yourself, deal with unforeseen events, and socialise with locals.
All of these new activities will give you the ability to take care of yourself, manage your own life and achieve your goals. Nothing better than being on the road to remind you that creativity is a good mental health booster!
When we travel with our family or with a group of friends, it is making the experience more pleasing and unique. It is the right moment for you to contemplate unique moments with them.
Encountering something bigger than yourself that causes you awe and admiration elevates your well-being. Contemplation brings with it the focus on the present, the decrease of the ego, positive emotions and stimulates behaviours of kindness.
Learning to respect each other’s individuality and interests is a great way to develop tolerance.
Appreciating then moment leads us to be more altruistic and connect with the experiences we have travelling. When recording photos of remarkable moments, is a way of recording the beauty and creating memories with these moments.
You probably heard some time that “life is about perspective and how you look at something” and interpreting facts from new points of view is a huge part of it.
Naturally, being in another culture forces us to seek to understand the habits of that place in a way that makes sense to the people who live there.
When travelling, this can happen when experiencing cultural experiences, festivities, or even understanding a little about the history of the place.
This definitely strengthens perspective thinking. Thinking outside the box and learning something new when travelling is quite beneficial for your mental health too.