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.
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.
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.
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.
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.