How can traveling be a form of therapy?
Most people know that vacations can be a great opportunity for them to take a break from the monotony of daily life, focus on themselves for a while, and get some much-needed time to unwind and relax. Although many travel enthusiasts are aware of the short-term benefits of going on a trip, experts believe that traveling can also have long-lasting positive effects on our emotional and mental well-being.
According to psychologists, therapists, and avid travelers alike, embarking on new adventures can definitely be therapeutic for a plethora of reasons. If you’ve been feeling anxious, sad, or bored in your day-to-day life, you may want to consider packing up your bags to reap all the therapeutic benefits of travel.
Travel relieves stress.
In 2013, an American study revealed that over 80% of respondents felt significantly more relaxed after just a day or two of traveling. Vacationers frequently have lower cortisol levels, leading experts to believe that traveling promotes happiness and helps people feel more calm and content. Dr. Tamara McClintock Greenberg, a clinical psychologist and author, says that traveling can help us stop worrying about daily stressors in the workplace and demands at home. “It also helps us reflect on our personal goals and interests,” adds Greenberg. When you can distance yourself from your daily tasks, you can refocus on your own wants and needs, and then take steps to care for yourself.
Going abroad encourages personal growth.
Exploring a variety of countries, cultures, and activities can help you broaden your perspective and become more open-minded. Psychologist John Denninger says that, “Any time you have the opportunity to do something a little less comfortable, to expose yourself to new things, that does two things. It creates experiences that can build happiness, and it trains you to be more flexible in your daily life.” Connecting with people who have had vastly different life experiences than you can also improve your sense of empathy, which can lead to positive changes in your relationships once you return home. You will become more tolerant, understanding, and compassionate whenever you encounter someone who doesn’t quite “fit in” with your region’s cultural norms.
Going on trips can strengthen relationships.
One survey conducted by the US Travel Association concluded that going on a trip with your significant other can help you form a deeper connection to one another. When you have to rely on each other in order to find your accommodations, make it to your plane on time, and find activities to do together, communicating is essential. You and your partner will be able to bond over romantic dinners, exciting tours, and other fun tourist attractions, but you’ll also need to effectively find solutions when something goes wrong during your travels. If you and your partner can stay cool under pressure and maintain a sense of humor when you encounter minor setbacks, it’s a good sign that your relationship will stand the test of time!
New experiences boost creativity and resiliency.
No matter how carefully you plan out your itinerary, something unexpected will always come up at some point during your trip. Maybe there’s a local event at your destination you hadn’t accounted for, or perhaps your phone dies while you’re trying to navigate to a major attraction. In any case, encountering these problems while traveling forces you to be a creative problem-solver. As John Denninger says, “If you are always comfortable, you are not growing, so a little discomfort is good. It shows you can get through it.”
Along with getting you out of your comfort zone, traveling introduces you to entirely different patterns, customs, rules, and other cultural norms. As you take in all the new information, your cognitive flexibility will improve, which may also inspire more creative thoughts even after you return home.
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