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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 December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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