How Traveling Resets the Brain

Mappingmegan

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Let's face it - everyday life can be stressful. So much so that one of the biggest trending issues of the 21st century has been to raise awareness and shine a spotlight on issues surrounding mental health.

One in four people suffer from mental health issues at some point in their lives, whether that's feeling stuck in life, or battling more severe issues like anxiety and depression. And while traveling may sound at first like you're running from your problems, the truth can be quite the opposite.

Sometimes all most people need is a simple reset.

Well, travel is a great way to reset the brain!

Good For Your Mental Health

Scientific studies have long agreed that travel is good for your mental health. Getting out of your daily routine can help you clear your head and put you in a rejuvenated mindset.

While the mental stimuli of breaking out of a monotonous routine to immerse yourself in a new environment is one of the biggest factors in resetting your brain, the mere anticipation of travel can be great for your mental health.

Studies have shown that people are happiest when they have a vacation planned, because they a positive experience to look forward to. Dramatically lifted moods are very powerful when it comes to resetting your brain.

Proper Relaxation

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Relaxation is the best way to reset your brain, and while a weekend at the spa might do the trick for getting through the following work week, travel gives you proper time to actually decompress, and de-stress.

For a start, you're actually removing yourself from the source of your everyday monotony for an extended period of time (as opposed to having a one hour massage where the kids are still running around the house, and you can see your huge pile of laundry out of the corner of your eye).

When you travel to a completely new place, you’re able to properly decompress and switch off your mind, because you're putting space and distance between the sources of your daily anxiety.

Being able to step outside the problems you're experiencing, and look at them from an objective point of view is a huge perk of travel. Having taken proper time to reflect and reassess, you'll find you're able to return home with a clearer head, and perhaps a new approach to tackling your issues.

Even short holidays can contribute to stress relief, giving you a much-needed break and putting you in a more relaxed state. So if you’re constantly frustrated that you don’t have time to get away, maybe reshape your thinking and aim for a short weekend break.

Even if you go for an overnight staycation in your own city, and play tourist for a day, this can significantly alter your mood; it’s all about removing yourself from your daily routine, and a hotel in the city just might do that for you!

Finding Mental Clarity

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When you’re in the same space, it’s easy to become stagnant and feel like you can’t evolve. When you’re traveling through new environments however, you have the opportunity for real reflection, which opens up different perspectives.

When you see the same people, places, and things every single day, the weeks and months can start to blend. You stop noticing new things and life becomes a blur. Getting away from what you’re used to can stimulate your mind and provide you with mental clarity.

But it's not just about breaking outside of your bubble that opens your mind; according to a Stanford University study, activity itself and the endorphins released when you experience feelings of awe can trigger a huge mental boost which leads to clarity.

Exciting experiences boost our zest for life, improve our self awareness, and fosters a sense of reflectiveness. And this is ultimately what people refer to when they say that travel allowed them to rediscover themselves.

Alleviating Anxiety

For people who cope with anxiety disorders, traveling can go in two different directions. It's either going to trigger additional anxiety, with the many unknowns and unfamiliarities you'll face, or it will alleviate your anxiety.

It's perfectly normal to feel anxious in the lead up to a trip, after-all, it often means leaving what you know, whether that is your family, your job, your routine, or your surroundings.

BUT, once you do take the leap and start your trip, many people report that it completely changes their life (for the better!). It’s just a matter of taking that risk of leaving your comfort zone and seeking out new things.

It can be challenging to remove yourself from what you know, but ultimately, getting away can reduce your anxiety because it gives you space from your daily life stressors. Traveling can be cathartic.

That said, it's important to understand that mental illness doesn’t go away just because you’re traveling. And having an episode while overseas can be much more distressing than when you experience them at home.

Travel as Therapy

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While your issues don't go away because you travel, travel can be a great form of therapy. And when you have realizations during travel, you can bring them into your day to day life upon your return.

You can talk about the things that you realized while traveling with a therapist when you get home. Maybe you kept a journal and figured out ways that you can modify your daily life (keeping a travel journal can help you observe what is and isn’t working in your day-to-day).

Maybe something stood out about the way that people live in a location that you visited, and you want to bring an aspect of that lifestyle into your world at home. It could be as simple as visiting a new space and realizing that the people there seem to take more time for relaxation or acts of kindness than you do.

If you're unable to process everything you've experienced and discovered while traveling, talk to a therapist online or in your local area who will help you gain clarity even further and bring what you learned while traveling into your day-to-day existence.

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Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Having visited 100+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.

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