You don’t have to go to Tibet. Any travel outside your hometown can be a spiritual awakening and a boost to your mental health. Traveling wakes us up to the moment, makes us more observant, and forces us to engage with interesting new people. Travelers often have to accept the kindness of strangers.
To understand the connection between travel and mental health, read on.
Travel makes us mindful
There’s nothing like taking a walk through a new town to keep us on our toes. When you are in a new place, you’re more inclined to notice everything: the art deco details on a building, the shoes on a working girl, the off leash dog. This state of alertness is akin to mindfulness, a recommended state of mind for people who want to get happy and stay happy.
Traveling opens our eyes and jolts us out of our routine. You can’t help but learn new things as you travel. Some people will argue that travel is the greatest educational experience you can have.
Many great writers and artists have gotten their most inspired ideas by traveling to exotic parts of the globe. Going to the Galapagos Islands, for instance, inspired Charles Darwin to write On the Origin of the Species. Paul Gauguin’s trip to Polynesia changed him from a banker to a full time painter. Elizabeth Gilbert’s travels catapulted the memoir Eat, Pray, Love.
Travel is transformative for many people. It helps them get perspective on their lives and values. It might even help you make an important decision about whether to stay in the same job or the same relationship.
Don’t skip vacation time
Strangely enough, many people are reluctant to take their vacation time. Studies indicate that reluctance to take time off is motivated by fear. Some people are afraid to get behind on their work projects, others are afraid that their bosses will realize they are disposable.
While it’s true that some people do get fired when they get back from vacation or even during vacation, you need to consider the long term health detriments of working year round without a break.
People who work with no breaks are at high risk of heart disease, obesity, loss of muscle tone, poor lung function, and poor circulation as well as a myriad of mental health problems, like depression and anxiety.
And do you really want to work for a company that fires people who took their vacation time? If you’re really afraid of that, it might be a good time to pursue another line of work.
Getting the most out of your vacation
Of course, you can only enjoy a truly therapeutic getaway if you prepare properly. Here are some important things that need to be on your checklist before you walk out the door and to the taxi:
Hire a reliable pet sitter for your dog or cat. Pet sitters get really busy around traditional vacations times like spring break, so take care of this early.
Make sure your luggage contains backup documents of identification, like passports.
Bring prescriptions and phone numbers for your physicians.
Once you are on the road, avoid the temptation to overplan every moment. Some of the greatest joys of travel come from discovering something you weren’t looking for like a group of young people on the beach splitting a bottle of wine and playing flamenco or a pop up zombie march.
Above all, remember that the agenda of your vacation is you--it’s your journey, no one else’s. Launch out on your own and have a completely original adventure.
Alice Robertson began her career in the home organization industry as a professional house cleaner. After cleaning and organizing her clients’ homes for years, she decided to open her own home organization business. Over the years, she has built an impressive client list, helping to make spaces in homes and businesses more functional. She recently created tidyhome.info as a place to share the great cleaning and organizing advice she has developed over the years.