What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when I say ‘travel’ – a holiday? Meeting new people? Or maybe, Instagrammable sunsets? While travelling can be exciting and exhilarating, it’s so much more than sipping margaritas on a sun-soaked beach.
Taking a holiday and having a change of scenery, even if it is just a couple of hours down the road, can work wonders, and it has been scientifically proven that travel provides a number of benefits to your mental health.
With the rise of the Instagram generation, visibility of travelling has never been more prominent. As influencers promote the travelling lifestyle, more young people want to mimic it. This and the increased awareness in mental health issues has led to a number of the younger generation taking extended time out to travel and find themselves.
You don’t have to take a gap year for this, just one trip away could help change your outlook on life for the better — here are a few reasons why it may be worth packing your suitcase.
Our lives can often be constantly busy, and sometimes we may feel that we are living each day on repeat. Sometimes all your body and mind need is a rest – and where better to chill out than on a sun lounger somewhere warm? Sunshine is a great stress-buster, giving you a dose of mood-boosting vitamin D and increasing the brain’s release of serotonin, the so-called ‘happy hormone’.
Leaving work stress and the everyday routine behind in exchange for afternoon naps, leisurely walks and the freedom to make your own schedule can do your mental health the world of good. Spending time away with friends and loved ones can add to the feel-good factor, while solo travel can refresh your sense of independence.
Stay Fit and Healthy
Physical exercise is known to improve mental wellbeing and is one of the first things that will be prescribed to anyone with mental health issues. Therefore, combining the positive effects of travelling with exercise is a no brainer.
Whether you enjoy pounding the pavement on a city break, swimming in the sea or summiting mountain peaks, getting to know a new destination by embracing the great outdoors can boost energy levels and improve your mood.
Combine these positive effects with being closer to nature and you will have a truly relaxing trip. Immersing yourself in and connecting with nature is another key way to reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression.
As creativity is generally related to neuroplasticity (how the brain is wired), it means our brains are sensitive to change, influenced by new environments and experiences. According to the Colombia Business School’s Adam Galinsky, the key to getting a creativity boost is to really immerse yourself in the place and engage with its local culture; this open-mindedness can help you to embrace different ways of living to your own, in turn influencing your own outlook on life.
Having a creative outlet is a great way to practice mindfulness and so the more you are able to put it to good use, the better. We find happiness in many of our creative and expressive pursuits. Changing scenery and inspiring more creativity in your life will help you release more of yourself in your hobbies and work.
Change in Perspective
One of the main benefits of travelling and experiencing new cultures is the way they view the world. Having new perspectives on life can really help you get your head around some of the issues within your own.
Something as simple as learning a new recipe or changing the way you spend your downtime can have a dramatic effect on your wellbeing. Travel can lead you to question and challenge the norms of everyday life at home, potentially inspiring you to make positive changes.
Before You Go…
If you are going on holiday, you’ll have better peace of mind if all of your documents are ready. Be aware of countries that may need visas. Paperwork can be a mess but luckily these days, countries such as Oman will offer an Oman E-Visa, so it can all be done online before you go. Even Canada is offering a form of electronic visa through a Canada eTA. Make sure you get down to your Birmingham travel agents and book an exciting trip.
Make sure that all your travel documents are in order, with your passport being valid with 6 months left on it before you travel. Research where you are travelling, looking into the culture and dress code that is acceptable so you can enjoy your trip without any complications.