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Why Traveling Is A Great Way To Overcome Depression

Why Traveling Is A Great Way To Overcome Depression

Depression is never black and white nor is it just feeling sad and unhappy. It’s not something that you will snap out of eventually or will completely disappear when you wake up one day. Living with depression requires day-to-day management and is unique to every person. Understanding your own depression is paramount to receiving the correct treatment needed to support you through the journey, and what one treatment does for one person may not be effective for another.

This is why it’s important to seek out alternative ways to not only change the way we look at our depression, but also to encourage us to open up to different experiences that will help towards controlling depression in an effective way, regaining much-needed energy and clarity that we need to move forward positively.

Overcoming Depression Through Travel

Although no scientific research has been made into the connection of positive effects of travel on our mental well-being, many people suffering from depression have spoken about the ways in which encountering different situations, people and experiences through travel has allowed them to overcome depression or help cope with their depression in a natural way.

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Endorphins and oxytocin play a huge role in the chemistry of our brain and the way our mood affects the way we perceive ideas, thoughts and beliefs. By traveling, endorphins and oxytocin are released in myriad ways through different experiences we encounter. Travel forces the brain to make use of these hormones to improve our mood and outlook.

A survey was conducted that found traveling is a massive mood booster for people, with vacations and longer trips fulfilling that much-needed sweet spot, whether it’s to spend time with family and friends or to just get away and recuperate. That’s no surprise – everyone loves a break – but how exactly does traveling help with our ability to overcome depression?

1. Traveling Opens Up Unique Situations

Depression can be cultivated in many ways but when you suffer from depression, you can have a tendency to feel isolated and alienated from others. The feelings and emotions of depression can cause you to indulge in your negative thoughts and beliefs that can cut you off from external environments that could potentially help you overcome those very feelings.

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Traveling opens you up to situations that require you to pay attention to what’s happening around you and your brain to think in different ways and solve problems that you wouldn’t necessarily face in everyday life. Not only that, but you also open up to encountering new friends and different stimuli that will create less chance for emphasis on your emotions and distract you from dwelling too much.

Of course, distraction isn’t a cure for depression, but over time your brain will get used to not concentrating so much about your inner thoughts and will allow you to see different perspectives at the same time. Creating new positive memories can help you realize the potential for combating your negative inner thoughts.

2. Traveling Teaches You What’s Possible

Depression can lead to thoughts of low self worth and create negative beliefs that cause us to think we are incapable of a lot of things. It can cloud us from seeing our true potential. Traveling can educate us in ways that no other experiences can, showing us that most of what we think is impossible is actually possible. 

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Traveling creates inspiration which can help alter our perceptions of ourselves and those around us. When you meet people who have made life choices based on what they want, not what society expects, this can help open up new ideas and beliefs and you can choose to think this way too. When traveling, you have the freedom to eat what you want, see what you want and do anything that you want to do, which sometimes depression doesn’t allow you to think about or attempt in everyday life.

3. Getting Out And Meeting People Helps Overcome Depression

Depression can often bring with it social anxiety or anti-social tendencies. Meeting new people can become something you want to avoid and you may have trouble connecting with others. At home, meeting new people can be hard but when traveling, you are more likely to meet open, friendlier people who are easy to strike up conversations with. Traveling creates a common bond between fellow travelers because a lot of you are sharing similar experiences. You can encounter experiences like volunteering where meeting people less fortunate than you can be humbling and allows you to focus and appreciate the good things in your own life as well as the other volunteers you get to know through the process.

Meeting people from all walks of life can often bring out ideas, advice and beliefs that may never have occurred to you before. In the long-run, friendships carved from traveling can be a constant reminder of your positive memories and help you with containing your depression once you’re back home and improving your outlook on life.

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4. Traveling Helps You See The Big Picture

When depression hits, we tend to lose the ability to see the bigger picture of our lives. When we’re bogged down in day-to-day life, we don’t get the chance to step back and evaluate our problems properly. Sometimes depression causes us to have an outlook on life that involves a skewed view of the world.

Traveling allows us to see the bigger picture. It can help us put certain thoughts and beliefs in perspective and assess the way we think more candidly. When we take ourselves out of our usual environment, we are forced to literally see the world from different eyes. An accumulation of all the experiences we have while traveling can create a whole new thought process that can help towards overcoming depression.

5. The World Itself Can Be A Natural Anti-Depressant

Never underestimate the vast beauty and wonder that Mother Earth provides and its effect on us as humans. Traveling can cultivate a sense of awe that we don’t necessarily get the chance to notice when we’re seeing the same places and people everyday at home.

Awe has a huge affect on our well-being and happiness and this is in abundance when traveling to different cities and countries. Whether it’s diving in the Great Barrier Reef or trekking through great mountains and forests, nature has a very strong and calming effect on us. Being at one with nature may sound a bit spiritual and mystical but research has found it’s a real way of beating depression. Traveling creates an immense amount of opportunities that help expose us to more of what this planet has to offer us mentally.

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Jenny Marchal

A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality. (And here’s Why Your Perception Is Your Reality.)

I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

1. The Inner Critic

This is your constant abuser who is often a conglomeration of:

  • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
  • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
  • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
  • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

The Inner Critic is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

Why else would this person abuse you? And since this person is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

2. The Worrier

This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

The Worrier is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it. Occasionally, this person is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

This is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

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This person can be set off by words or feelings, and can even be set off by sounds and smells.

The Reactor has no real motivation and has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

4. The Sleep Depriver

This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

The Sleep Depriver’s motivation can be:

  • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
  • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
  • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
  • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

How can you control these squatters?

How to Master Your Mind

You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

There are two ways to control your thoughts:

  • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
  • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier; and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

For the Inner Critic

When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

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“Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

  • They rile up the Worrier.
  • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
  • They are often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
  • They are a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
  • They are the destroyer of self-esteem. They convince you that you’re not worthy. They’re a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get them out!

Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

Replace them with your new best friends who support, encourage, and enhance your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

For the Worrier

Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tense

Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

“Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

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For example:

If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

“I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

“Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tension

I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

Breathe in through your nose:

  • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
  • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
  • Focus on your belly rising.

Breathe out through your nose:

  • Feel your lungs emptying.
  • Focus on your belly falling.
  • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

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Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

For the Sleep Depriver

(They’re made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

  1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
  2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

You can also use this technique any time you want to:

  • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
  • Shut down your thinking.
  • Calm your feelings.
  • Simply focus on the present moment. 

The Bottom Line

Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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