I used to call traveling my therapy. My antidepressants. My hope, my straw, my rock. Many travellers find a better connection to themselves when travelling and learn new ways of coping with difficulties in life. But what does make travelling therapeutic? Where does all the change, the self-awareness and the mood improvement come from? Here are seven characteristics of travelling that can show therapeutic effects.
1. Travelling teaches you mindfulness
Mindfulness is the only way to be in the moment.
Mindfulness is often used as a therapeutic intervention. Mindfulness plays an important role in treating for example anxiety and depression and is likewise used to reduce stress. In daily life, everything often seems to be the same and we tend to pay less attention to the usual. But when travelling, you might see things that you have not seen ever in your life. You probably smell things that you never smelt. You can taste food that you have not eaten before and you will listen to sounds that you’re hearing for the first time. By discovering all the new beautiful things on your journey, you focus your attention on it. This will help you to practice how to live in the moment instead of worrying about the future or ponder about the past.
2. Travelling invites to digital detox
Our daily life is full of social media and digital gadgets. When was the last time you did not touch or see any tech gadget for a whole day? No alarm in the morning, no message, no wifi, no online directions. When travelling, you have the chance to leave all that behind for a day or even longer if you want to. Sometimes, there might not be a charger anywhere. And travelling – especially if you like to travel from one destination to the other with a backpack – with a huge amount of tech gadgets can be pretty inconvenienced as well. Therefore, there is a high chance of having to cut the connection to the online world and see what else is out there. Walking in any direction without having a goal presented on a screen will allow the wind of destiny to tenderly push you.
3. Travelling will give you new perspectives
By unwinding, our mind is actually not unwinding at all. As when sleeping, your brain does a lot of work. For example, during REM-sleep, your brain is as active as when you’re reading a book highly concentrated. Without being forced to focus on a specific task, the mind is allowed to wander, which can lead to new perspectives, ideas and solutions to solve problems.
A journey is not about a new place but about a new way of seeing things.
4. Travelling will help you to face your fear
When travelling, you will have to face your fear. You will learn to listen to the inner voice and to trust your gut. As there is no one to rely on, you will improve your self-esteem tremendously by relying on yourself. Did you ever have any hassle in your daily life and thoughts like “I can´t do it?”. If so, you will learn how to make it a “I can and I will do it” by travelling. In this way, travelling can be a kind of exposure therapy and treat anxiety. This will increase your self-esteem tremendously.
5. Traveling will teach you positive thinking
In the same way as travelling will help you to overcome fear, it will teach you a new and positive way of thinking. As I said before there is no option for “I cannot do it.” You will find a way to solve whatever problem occurs. And by solving problems on your own, you will learn to trust yourself fully and learn to beliefe in yourself and to think positive about yourself, the surrounding, the present moment as well as the future.
Everything has two sides. It depends on you if you see at the bright or the dark side.
6. Travelling will teach you to let go
You cannot take all of your household with you when travelling. You need to decide, what really matters to you. And even when you take the most important things only, you will probably loose a lot of the stuff on your way without even missing it. After a few month, you will cherish minimalism and the advantage of letting go. I remember myself starting my journey of travelling for a couple of month with a heavy backpack and coming back with an empty one. You do not know how little you need until you travel and this will remain even when you come back home.
7. Travelling will make you more active
When travelling, you will probably barely stay inside of a hotel all day long. You will explore new places, walk around and be ways more active than you are used to. This will increase your physical activity, which is likely to improve your mood and decrease depressive thoughts and feelings. In a similar way, pleasant activity scheduling is used in behaviour therapy to decrease depression.
“Happiness is a state of activity.”Aristotle