How Travelling Can Improve Your Mental Health

How Travelling Can Improve Your Mental Health

The following article was kindly written and contributed by Lewis Robinson.

Whether you’re thinking about starting, or you’re a seasoned traveler, travel is something that captures the imagination of many.

Seeing more of the world around you brings to mind words like “adventure,” and it lives up those grand descriptions. Traveling is a great way to spice up your life by introducing you to new things, and it can also improve the quality of your character. Here are just a few ways that travel can change your life.

It Can Make You a Better Person

Exposing yourself to other places and other cultures can offer you many things, but it can also offer you a new perspective on what it means to be a person. Famously, some astronauts, upon seeing the Earth at a distance, were overcome with a sense of oneness with the Earth in its entirety. Travel can offer a version of this in microcosm. Seeing more of the world and the many distinct peoples that inhabit this planet can contribute to a similar sense of oneness that can make you more empathetic to others.

In particular, seeing the hard work and the struggles of others can make you more generous, especially when you’re visiting a less wealthy nation that does without a lot of what you take for granted. I learned there are many young kids in third world countries that are left in orphanages, upon which they receive little to no funds. This effect is a driving force for me to find out about donations to children's charities, because the harsher experiences that others endure suddenly become real; people lose the ability to ignore those struggles when confronted with them.

It Can Improve Your Understanding of the Global Community

The world you inhabit is vast, but in terms of communication, it’s growing much smaller. More the interactions that take place in modern society are international and multicultural. However, it can still be difficult to understand the needs, desires, and motivations of other peoples that one has no direct exposure to. That understanding is increasingly necessary and beneficial, as more and more national news and policy are taking on a more international importance.

Taking part in other cultures, even lightly, can increase your understanding of those cultures, which pertains to their customs, as well as their attitudes, and how these facets of their culture intersect with your own. It can be of paramount importance that you have this kind of knowledge when international affairs go poorly, because there is a tendency among many to blame a culture for the actions of an individual, and that can create more problems, rather than fixing anything.

It Can Make You More Willing to Take Risks

Almost certainly, traveling is something that will push you out of your comfort zone, and that’s a very good thing. Many people are averse to risks, which sounds good on paper, but it can often lead to stagnation. For instance, one could choose to remain at the same job, despite the known availability of better options, just because they fear the uncertainty a new occupation entails.

Traveling can force you to break any number of boundaries you may have imposed upon yourself, and you’ll likely be better for it. For example, if you find yourself fearful of the outdoors because of a sheltered upbringing, touring a foreign wilderness offers you the temptation to challenge that fear. Likewise, social anxiety can be curbed by trying to communicate with members of other cultures, because it can be made less anxiety inducing by virtue of the added difficulty of translation. The word “adventure” is truly apt when describing travel, as it mixes both fun and work in such a way that it’s appealing because of the former and constructive because of the latter.

Travel may be something you’ve always wanted to do, or it may be something that you’re itching to get back to. Either way, you’ll be reaping additional, secret benefits that travel has to offer. It can potentially improve your sense of your place in the world, as well as your understanding of the value of others. With these benefits on the table, anyone that has the ability to travel should at least try it, because it could be a life changing experience.

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