Why Travel and Mental Health Goes Well Together
December 20, 2019
Travel and mental health stability go very well together. We are all living in a fast-changing environment. Most of us have to get up in the morning and head to work or school. We are expected to perform and behave in a certain way. Every new day is bringing new tasks, targets, KPI’s, tests. How does it apply to travel and mental health stability?
Importance of mental health in everyday life.
Finding the mental health balance in everyday fast-paced life is important for you and the people around you. I base my opinions on my personal experiences and the experiences of my close friends, family, colleagues.
Personally, I had multiple ups and downs in my life for various reasons. Most of them happened in the time between doing a master’s degree and moving to London. I assume it was mainly due to getting out of my comfort zone and throwing myself in full-time adult life.
At some point, I have been struggling with my own mental health stability to the extent when I had to search for help as it was affecting my friends and family. In my case, it was work-related stress and anxiety triggered by a boss. He was the meanest, the cheekiest and the most unrespectful boss I have ever had. As you can see it still bothers me, but I have learned how to live with it. Motherf… human being. Haha.
Comfort zone and how it affects my life.
I know more or less my comfort zone and how it affects my life in various situations. In terms of travel, I do prefer the most travelling solo. Being on my own and testing my limits gives me reassurance that I am able to cope with any challenge that life will throw at me. As soon as I am out of my comfort zone I feel anxious. But what exactly is comfort zone? I am no scientist however, for me the comfort zone is every aspect of life which is known and we are able to deal with without stress or anxiety. The moment I will have to face something new, in most cases, I will have to get out of the comfort zone, like on the Mont Blanc climb this year. Once I will get out of the comfort zone I might feel stressed, uncomfortable.
That is good! That is exactly how it is supposed to be. This is the only way I and my brain will adapt and will learn how to cope with the unknown. Next time I will be in the same or similar situation I will know exactly what to expect. It is much easier to say than do. The only way to get there is to do it. Try yourself. Start from something easy. Maybe take a different route to work or school. Maybe just try speaking to a stranger in public transport. Just give it a go!
Why travel is a mental health clinic?
To be honest, any hobby, any activity and any passion may help. For me, it is travel. It doesn’t matter if I am a weekend warrior, motorcycle camper, bushcrafter or adventure traveller. Every moment out and about is working better than any therapy and any other remedy. For you, it might be painting, eating, listening to music etc. For me, travel brings mental health stability.
When I am travelling, I like to think about my life, about the decisions I made. The thing is that when I am travelling solo I don’t have to worry about shopping, laundry other people or world peace. I worry about the weather, water and the next meal. I think about the shelter for the night. Well, I do not worry, but those are my only concerns. I am on my own, no Internet, no mobile phones, just nature.
In these moments I can focus the most and find the inner balance. Think about things that are really important and relevant in my life. Everyone will have a different catalyst. For some, as I have mentioned already, it can be a painting, for others, like me, travelling. Suddenly you will, I hope, realise that your work is irrelevant, your possessions are not important. Your health and your family’s wellbeing is really important. The people you love are important. Hopefully, you will realise that you stress about totally irrelevant problems. Stress leads to anxiety and overload of those will lead to mental health issues.
I am not saying to drop everything and move to a shed in the woods (but it would be sick! Let me know if you do so), but to find a healthy distance and balance for all those things that are irrelevant. The job will not buy health. Material possessions will not make you truly happy. The money will not give meaning to your life.
Travel is the catalyst for me which is giving me a fresh point of view and allows me to take a step back to rethink my actions, behaviour and decisions I made. Being on my own, among the wild nature without modern life facilities makes me really relaxed and happy.
I just realised that I am focusing on hikes, climbs and very remote destinations. I am missing adventure weekends and adventure travel in more civilised locations. That is because I personally have to get off the beaten track to clean my head. There is, however, a whole world of travel. From exploring picturesque old towns over weekends to beach holidays that are a month long. Check the Things to do in Rye, maybe you will get inspired.
For me, however, the best sort of getaway and extending my comfort zone are hikes and wild camping/bushcraft trips, or more challenging trips. You can read about how to climb Mont Blanc or about Burrator Reservoir and Sheeps Tor wild camping on Adventure Clinic Travel Blog.
Stress, anxiety, work-life balance.
Stress, anxiety, work-life balance. Those are in my opinion the hazards of modern life that are affecting us the most. When the inner balance is lost it is very difficult to recover the stability. As soon as stress and anxiety will take over our lives it takes a lot of hard work and a lot of changes to realise and acknowledge that the majority of the things that are bothering us are not important. Just take a step back and rethink your current life. Make a list of pros and cons. In most cases, the list of pros will be longer!
I always say that I am not going to stress about something in the future. When the future will be present and the problem will still exist, then I will worry. The problem doesn’t exist until it will be here and now. The same applies to travel. If you like planning, plan ahead, if you don’t, go with the flow, but don’t worry about it. I like to plan ahead, i.e. train tickets, accommodation etc. But when I am out and about I will go with the flow as long as it is safe and will not cause any serious problems or sketchy situations in the long run.
Everything that I wrote above is to show what is affecting me and my mental health, but also is quite general and I believe affects a lot of people. I know for a fact that work, stress, modern life and technology is affecting people around me. The most important thing is to realise that the problem is creeping up on you and to take action. Sitting at home and hoping for the best will not help.
Get out to the world! Leave the comfort zone behind.
Get out to the world, leave the comfort zone behind and start exploring. I am not saying to pick up climbing, snowboarding, hiking (that’s me, haha) but go away for a quiet weekend. Get your favourite beverage, snack and spend some time in nature. Turn off the phone, at least set it in the flight mode if you take pictures like I do, and relax.
Stop worrying, it will not change a single thing!