Traveling to Improve Your Mental Health
By: Nate Webster, IMH
Nothing has taught me more about life than when I traveled abroad. Something amazing happens when you get out of the familiarity of your life to somewhere new. New foods, new people and new sights just have a way of changing the way you see the world. Going to new places and seeing news things does wonders for our mental and emotional wellbeing. In my own travels, a few things have stuck with me and I hope they can convince you to take some time abroad as well.
1. We always have a lot to learn: A professor once told me, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” A simple adage with a big point. You can feel like you know a lot but chances are there’s a whole lot you don’t know. Most of us see education as a season of our life that we’ve thankfully graduated from, but being a life long learner is the biggest key to success. During his career Thomas Edison was quoted saying that he didn’t fail a 1000 times, he just found a 1000 ways to NOT make a light bulb. Traveling has a wonderful way of reigniting your curiosity and appetite for understanding, learning and knowledge, and with those things we become kinder, humbler and more open-minded individuals.
2. There’s a different way of life: Sometimes when you’ve been in the same situation for so long you can forget that there are other ways of doing things. I love traveling because it reminds me that there are different ways to do all the things in life that we all regularly do such as relaxing, relationships, work and even holidays. It’s important to remember that the life you’ve come from and the things you’ve experienced isn’t the way the whole world operates and that can be really good news. Many of us come from families that were really tough in one way or another, and it’s encouraging when we realize there is a world outside the things we know.
3. Get to know yourself: When you travel you often have much fewer distractions and you often run into things that will make you feel uncomfortable. These may sound pretty basic, but how often do you turn off the distractions of your life and really challenge yourself with something new? The combination of less distractions and discomfort are one of the healthiest things we can do for our minds, because they really give us a chance to learn more about ourselves. When you don’t have things distracting your emotions and thoughts, you get to really ask yourself what you’re feeling. When you experience something that makes you uncomfortable, you have space and opportunity to ask yourself why.
There is so much therapeutic value in traveling, it helps you become a life long learner, realize there are different ways of living life and most importantly, it helps you to learn yourself. Whether it’s a day trip to a neighboring city or a pilgrimage half way around the world, make a point to incorporate travel into your schedule. Your mind and emotions will thank you!