We all have become well aware that certain things reduce our chance of depression: activity/fitness, strong relationships, creative outlets, even the food we consume and so on. However, the science is building up around travels positive impact on our mental health. We are here to emphasize that travel is not a luxury, rather an essential part of our health and well-being. Scientists also prove that happiness is increased much more by experiences rather than things.
Travel is a huge stress-reducer. It also has countless positive benefits on our physical and physiological health. Travel sparks creativity and productivity. It sharpens our brain and cognitive function. The list goes on and we could shout it from the rooftops! You get our point. It is only reasonable that these travel benefits would significantly reduce our risk of depression. My family and I not only believe this, as scientists and travel-enthusiasts, but we live it. Travel is my therapy.
Have you heard of stargazing therapy? Now you don’t have to travel far or wide to do this. But, then again, have you been to Alaska or Utah or any wide open space where you can literally see the milky way? It is magnificent. You look up into the sky, worry washes away and it immediately shifts your focus off of yourself.
A University of California-Irvine study even found that looking up at the stars makes us nicer. Lead researcher, Dr. Paul Piff explained, “Our investigation indicates that awe, although often fleeting and hard to describe, serves a vital social function. When experiencing awe, you may not, egocentrically speaking, feel like you’re at the centre of the world anymore. By diminishing the emphasis on the individual self, awe may encourage people to forgo strict self-interest to improve the welfare of others.”
Perspective: one of travels greatest gifts. Sure, crummy things happen, but often times it takes getting outside of our bubble, of our wallowing, of a negative mindset, to realize the big picture – most things we get worked up about are quite insignificant. Suddenly time stands still, if even for a moment, and we gain imagination.
With stars or not, getting a break from our daily routine, looking at life in a different or new way reduces our risk of depression – emphasizing an experience over something material. Travel leaves us feeling refreshed. It builds resilience. It ignites a spark! These are great things…and, not to be underestimated in improving our mental health.