Since I started this blog – I’ve always wanted to write about how Travel can help boost your mental health. I have always felt that mental health is quite a personal and at times very difficult topic but the thing is everyone has mental health like, everyone has physical health and both need to be nurtured and cared for. Before I start I want to be open that I do not have a diagnosed mental health condition but like most modern people – I had a long period where I felt low and anxious. I’m not here to belittle anyone that does have a mental health condition but simply to tell my story and the benefits traveling has had on me.
I have no problem speaking about Mental Health but I do feel a bit uncomfortable ever speaking about my own which is where the nations problem lies.
As I’ve previously said I do not have a ‘diagnosed’ mental health condition. I’m not depressed nor do I have crippling anxiety. However, I can feel low, I can get anxious and I get the worst PMS in the world ( which if you have experienced you’ll understand. ) These feelings can float in and out my life and I can feel happy and content one day and not want to get out my bed the next.
Before my nursing training any time a ‘situation’ would arise that I didn’t want to particularly deal with – I’d flee the country and go explore. Some would say run away, I prefer sorting my head out on the beach. Due to this, I got to live in South Africa and travel Thailand and Laos ( and South Africa again ). Now these negative feelings I once had are zapped in to wonderful experiences and adventures that I’ll never forget.
However, during my nursing training, my confidence took a hit. I felt that my best was not enough in all aspects of my life would which would make anxious and pretty low. I didnt have the time or the money to explore. I didn’t make an effort with people which made relationships fall apart and by the end of it – I felt like i just looked like a bit of ‘bitch’ that didn’t care.
I thought moving back to Edinburgh would sort it out and although it helped – I wasn’t back to ‘the normal me’. I started my first job which although I was enjoying – the new lifestyle was knackering me. After spending a couple of days snoozing on the couch, I woke up realising I was back at work the next day and had achieved nothing personally.
This was my wake up call. I can work and sleep my life away or I can actually get out and live my life. I made an instagram and then a blog to give myself some sort of motivation to get up and out. I started off small – day trips here and there. I then started booking weekends away – Marrakech, Paris and Iceland. I started booking bigger trips for something to look forward to and now I can happily say that I’m addicted to finding new places ( although my bank balance HATES me! )
Every time I go somewhere new and got some new fab photos- I feel some self achievement. Relationships started to rebuild as I started to say YES instead of no. Obviously, PMS is something that I deal with at the moment but slowly and surely I am starting to feel like me again, the girl that didn’t worry about small things and made the most of her days off.
The Benefits of Travel
So Rhanna get to the point – why does travel help your mental health? and more importantly how can it help you?
Traveling is like recharging your batteries in the healthiest way possible. Wakening up somewhere new and not having to worry about any daily life problems can be refreshing and energizing. When your biggest problem is what are you going to see that day or where are you going to eat – it can make life seem very very easy.
Traveling can help build any sort of relationship. If its with your other half or friends and family – getting away with them will bring new memories and bring you closer together. Before hand – you can get together and plan the trip and Afterwards You’ll forever be able to talk about the good times you had.
Traveling will bring out the creative side in you if you are creative person or not. I always like to plan my trips beforehand and spend hours researching a place before getting there so I have at least a brief idea about where I want to go. I find out where I want to go and how long it will take me to get there etc and from that make a bit of a plan. No, I’m not painting my ideas or have the pot of glue out to stick it all together but it’s a different way of using the creative side of your brain.
Going to a new place will build your confidence. If it’s meeting new people or managing to to get you and your friend from one side of London to the other by yourself then eventually it’ll bring your confidence levels up. There are many aspects of Traveling that can boost a persons confidence – for some even booking the trip and getting on the plane.
Traveling can bring up your ‘happy levels’ even before setting foot in the airport. Have you had that feeling before? When your starting to think about what your going to take on your next trip and is it too early to bring down the suitcase? If your a person that loves to travel this will secretly bring your happy levels up. I’ve always loved the quote ‘money can’t buy you happiness but it can buy you a holiday which is the next best thing’ I may have made that up, I’m not sure!
Eat + Drink
There is something freeing about being on your holiday and saying to yourself eat and drink whatever you want! I have the tip – eat and drink whatever you want whenever in another country. Something that us Brits can do is make ourselves feel guilty with every mouthful of food (myself included) which actually probably makes us eat more!! By giving yourself goals and then ‘rewarding’ yourself can give you a little boost without the guilty feeling.
Exploring new cultures
I love listening to others talking about their cultures and I always think it makes you realise how big the world is and how different every single person is. I wouldn’t particularly say I’m a religious person but I’m very open to other religions and the way people live and enjoy taking aspects in to my own daily life. For example, when I was in Thailand – the amount of traveling ( and jetlag! and drinking! ) was making it difficult for me to drift off. After speaking about this to our thai guide he gave me the biggest tip of my life – count back from ten, walk through the door leaving all your baggage (worries) of the day behind and pretend to be dead. yep dead. I walked away thinking that it surely wouldn’t solve my problems and give me a night of peace. Well, 5 years on and it still works every night. To the point that I’ve fallen asleep while trying to teach my fiance how to do it. I don’t quite imagine I’m dead but I do count down from ten and leave my baggage behind and I’m always cutting some serious Z’s before ever reaching 1.
I’m not under the false illusion that travel is for everyone and that its the solution to battling mental health. I especially don’t want people who read this to think that I am belittling any of their feelings and a trip to Italy will take them all away. I can imagine for some that the thought of going on a holiday especially when there are trips involved can be exhausting and filled with anxiety. However, I am saying it helped me and pulled me out of the rut that I had unfortunately, got myself in to and what I am saying – is maybe, just maybe traveling can help you too?
In the future, I’ll be discussing how we can help people with travel anxiety get through a trip.
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