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Ever find yourself day dreaming about your next vacation? Do you long to see the top of a mountain instead of a mountain of laundry? Research shows that stepping away from your everyday life has lasting mental health benefits. It’s time to get out your calendar and plan your next adventure. Fitness TravelingMom, Jenn Mitchell shares insights about how travel improves your mental health.
Travel can boost your mood and even make you smarter!
Ever since having children and surviving postpartum depression twice, it’s been a mission of mine to maintain a work/life balance for myself and my family. I’ve found that travel always helps to boost my mood, so I decided to do some research about the mental health benefits of travel. Here’s what I found.
6 Ways Travel Improves Your Mental Health
1. Travel reduces stress
For some people, being near water is a mood lifter, while others may love the mountains. Whatever excites your senses is where to start. When you wander in nature, it’s not just your body exploring the world, but your mind as well. “The connection to Mother Earth is magical,” says Holland Haiis, author of “Consciously Connecting: A Simple Process to Reconnect in a Disconnected World,” Ms. Haiis goes on to say, “When we relax in nature, our cortisol decreases and the brain gets plenty of dopamine to make you happy and reduce stress.” Even planning a vacation can help reduce stress by taking your mind off things that cause tension. Dreaming about where you want to go and what you want to do brings focus to what makes you happy and not what causes you stress.
I’m planning my family’s very first trip to Disney. My kids are thrilled! Selecting the parks we want to visit and picking our favorite rides is far better then tackling chores or doing homework. Sure, those things need to get done, but focusing on our trip first makes those things seem less stressful. We can’t wait to create magical moments as a family.
2. Travel creates a more mindful experience
When you travel, you are usually more observant, really seeing the world in a different way than at home. “People who travel experience a sense of openness that seems to transfer to their lives once they return home, making them more mindful about their lives” says physiotherapist, David Ezell of Darien, CT. Travel helps us realize that we are just a small part of a big world. It helps us appreciate what we have when we return. Here’s my TravelingMom post about how to be more mindful when you travel.
3. Travel helps you break free from routine
Holland Haiis says that taking a break from your routine is healthy. “Twenty-First century brains are on overload…there is something liberating about letting go and changing your routine.” She goes on to say, “Environments can trap us, but with a change of scenery you’ll become energized… your brain wants to disconnect and it needs to.” When you travel, you get to sleep in, eat when you want, exercise and tune into what your body needs.
4. Travel improves your creativity
Taking in sites like the Eiffel Tower, Westminster Abby, or the Vangough Museum. According to Conde Naste Traveler, “Taking in the aesthetic greatness of [these sites] isn’t just enjoyable; it actually enriches your own imagination. The more time you spend in other countries, the more creative you become.” When you experience new sights, smells and tastes your brain opens new ways of thinking creatively. That’s a health benefit of travel that’s great for kids in particular.
See this TMOM post from Alli Berman: Use Family Travel to Increase Kids’ Creative Thinking and Hone Their Powers of Observation.
5. Travel makes your more self sufficient
Using maps and figuring out time zone changes turns on the problem solving part of your brain. When the hotel you reserved loses your booking, you need to think fast to figure out what to do. Travel boosts your problem-solving skills because it forces you to think quickly and efficiently. You are constantly learning new skills by learning basics of a new language or navigating a the train system of a foreign city. You learn to rely on yourself each day, improving your self sufficiency. It’s a great confidence booster, especially if you travel solo. When you travel as a family, you can challenge your kids to help as well. They will return home knowing they can take on more challenges in their daily lives.
6. Travel is fun
Of course, the number one reason to travel is to have more fun. It may seem obvious, but we can all use a bit more fun in our lives. Being with loved ones and creating special memories is important for emotional health. When you travel, you should do things that lift your spirits and make you feel more alive. Travel should be a way to have extreme amounts of fun. For my kids, it’s what they say most when we travel. I hear, “That was SO MUCH FUN!” more than I ever do at home. Travel is one of the purest ways to have uninterrupted fun. It brings joy we are often missing in our daily lives.
Traveling anywhere can be therapeutic. No matter how long or short the trip, travel improves your mental health. Have you booked your next trip yet? Here are some fun ideas from fellow Traveling Moms:
- The Ultimate List of Travel Tips For Family Vacations
- Is A Dude Ranch Vacation Right for Your Family?
- Need a Lifestyle Reset? A Weekend Wellness Retreat Might Be Right for You!
- Favorite Spas and Ultimate Pampering on Vacation