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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 January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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