Mental Health and Vacations: The Search for Serotonin

Everyone loves a vacation. Whether you plan to relax close to home, head somewhere tropical, or go on an off-the-beaten-path adventure, a vacation can be the best way to naturally boost your serotonin. 

Nowadays, issues like burnout, stress, and low mental health seem to be running rampant. Work stress is causing people to experience anxiety and depression, and the state of society is enough to make anyone feel stressed out. 

Thankfully, chasing that “vacation high” doesn’t have to be a dream that’s out of reach. With that in mind, let’s cover some of the biggest mental health benefits of going on a vacation and how you can make the most of every second. By the time we’re finished, you might find yourself ready to book a plane ticket!

How Vacations Boost Your Mental Health

Sometimes, something as simple as breaking out of your daily routine can give you a burst of energy and serotonin, helping you to feel happier and less stressed about the inconveniences of everyday life. However, going on a vacation does much more than that to boost your mental health. 

Traveling, in general, is good for your health — mental and physical. Some of the biggest benefits of spending time away from home and your daily routine include: 

  • Meeting new people and experiencing new things;
  • Becoming more hopeful and optimistic;
  • Improving your outlook on life;
  • Boosting creativity and brain function.

If you focus on wellness during your trip, it can also help to reduce stress, make you more mindful, and even reduce your risk of depression. Plus, if you’re traveling to spend time away from your job, you might find that you return to work happier and more productive. 

Now that you know some of the benefits of taking a vacation, learn how to make the most of your time away.

Should You Go Solo? 

There are pros and cons to just about every choice you could make when it comes to planning a trip. However, one of the first decisions you’ll need to make is whether to go alone, with your partner/spouse, or even with a group of friends. 

You can make that decision easier on yourself by deciding what you want to gain out of your trip. The idea of going on a trip by yourself might seem overwhelming at first, but there are several benefits, including: 

  • Getting to know yourself more;
  • Increasing your chances of meeting new people;
  • Being able to go at your own pace;
  • Saving money;
  • Clearing your mind more easily.

However, if you’ve been struggling with loneliness or want to reconnect with someone you love, traveling with a partner or group of friends can be a fantastic way to experience new things together, strengthen your connection, and have someone to open up to if you’ve been feeling stressed or overwhelmed. 

If you don’t necessarily want to travel with other people, consider bringing your four-legged friend along with you. Dogs, especially, provide great company, and you won’t have to stress over leaving them at home with someone or boarding them. Traveling with a pet forces you to slow down a bit, and you might end up appreciating more of your surroundings and experiences. If you do decide to go this route, make sure you’re heading to a pet-friendly destination and that you make the proper accommodations to fly safely with your furry companion.

Looking and Feeling Your Best

Packing, planning, and preparing are all crucial when it comes to making your vacation as relaxing as possible. You can actually start to boost your excitement during the planning stages as you become more excited and filled with anticipation over where you’re going and what you’ll be doing. 

With that excitement rushing through you, it’s a perfect time to pack. You’ll be more likely to choose outfits that are comfortable and practical, but ones that make you feel your best, too. 

There’s a greater connection between clothing and your mental health than you might realize. What you wear can impact your creativity, boost your confidence, and create more opportunities for social connection. Obviously, depending on where you’re going, you’ll want to take everything from weather to activities into consideration. But, make sure you’re packing a few outfits that really make you feel your best. 

You’ll also feel your best if you don’t force yourself to fall into vacation stereotypes. If you’re a beach lover who wants to relax in the sun and sand, a tropical location is great. However, that’s not for everyone. Plan ahead for a location where you’ll feel most comfortable away from home. For some people, that’s skiing down the side of a hill in Aspen. For others, it’s exploring hiking trails in Vermont. If you’re a foodie, maybe your idea of a perfect vacation is touring your way through Italian vineyards and the best authentic restaurants in the country. 

If you’re truly “searching for serotonin” on your vacation, plan for the things that bring you joy. 

Everyone deserves a vacation once in a while. If you’ve been feeling stressed or overwhelmed by work, or life in general lately, take this as your sign to start planning something soon, for the sake of your mental well-being. 

Beau Peters

Beau Peters