3 Ways Travel Can Improve Your Mental Health

mental health benefits of traveling
credit: Angelo Patnazis

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When you’re struggling with your mental health, traveling is probably the last thing you feel like doing. Depression can make it difficult to leave your bed, let alone your house.

But it turns out that traveling can have a major effect on your mental health, particularly when it comes to stress levels, sleep, and increases in happiness.

So, if you can must up the energy to get out of the house, here are a few ways a trip might help you.

1. Merely Planning a Trip Can Increase Your Happiness

benefits of travel
credit: Karolina Grabowska

If your mental illness is preventing you from leaving home (don’t worry, we get it!), then simply planning a trip could be enough to give you a boost.

A 2014 study found the sheer anticipation associated with planning for a trip was enough to increase happiness. Additional studies have found similar results, further proving that planning a trip can be beneficial to your mental health.

So bust out your computer and start researching where you go for a little vaca. The planning might just give you the energy you need to leave the house (even if it’s only to the grocery store).

And in the off chance that planning the trip decreases your depression enough that you can actually go on the trip, then the mental health benefits might just double.

2. Travel Can Help You Finally Get Some Sleep

health benefits of traveling
credit: Marina Ryazantseva

Depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues can seriously affect your sleep which, in turn, can make your mental health even worse.

Turns out, traveling to a new environment might help you get those much-needed Zzzzs. The Medical Director of Behavior Health with Lee Health explained,

“Getting away from your routine at home, even for a weekend, can help reset your sleep pattern by disrupting any habits that negatively affect your sleep quality.”

He added,

“Even a getaway just for a weekend where you’re in a different environment may help you relax enough to be able to fall asleep, stay asleep, and feel rested upon waking.”

3. A Short Vaca Can Help Reduce Stress

mental health benefits of traveling
credit: Leah Kelley

A 2018 study found that even a short vacation of four days can have positive effects on stress levels. The study found that escaping your daily routine and usual environment helped reduce strain and stress for up to 45 days after returning home.

And you don’t necessarily have to go far to reap the benefits. If you can’t afford a hotel, ask a friend if they want to swap apartments for a long weekend. It will provide the change in environment you need without costing a penny.

A Few Things to Think About

mental health benefits of travel

If you can afford to travel abroad and have the energy, think about finally taking that trip to Paris or Rome that you’ve always dreamed about. Just make sure that you take all the proper precautions to ensure your trip is a success. Something as simple as finding luggage storage while you traipse around Europe will prevent you from carrying around that heavy suitcase.

Additionally, think about whether or not you want to travel alone or bring friends and/or family along. Travel can be a bonding activity when you’re with your family but if you don’t have the same travel style, it might be best to go solo.

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