Is travelling the best psychological medicine in 2019? Here’s what the experts have to say.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) released wellbeing figures which show that stress and depression are on the rise in the UK after the number of participants who said they had experienced these health concerns rose from 18.3% to 19.7% over the course of just one year. With this sense of dissatisfaction toward our mental health and wellbeing on the up, it is no wonder people are looking further afield to find a cure for their psychological malaise.
Mind, the charitable organisation which supports those dealing with mental health, lists possible reasons for depression and stress as “childhood experiences, your current life situation [as well as] drugs and medication” which means that a vast majority of us could, and have, experienced mental health difficulties over our lifetimes. However, when it comes to finding a way to beat the blues and drop the daily stress, can ‘getting away from it all’ really be the answer?
Anticipation Breaks Old Thought Habits
In 2019, we no longer see travel purely as a means of discovering new places, and instead, use it as an opportunity to take a break from old ones. Staying in places which hold the negative memories of painful experiences, whether that is stress at work or the breakup of a relationship, can beat us down mentally and can allow stress and depression to get a foothold in our lives. Moreover, according to the experts, the simplest way to reset our minds and give ourselves a fresh burst of positive mental energy is to book a breakaway.
The research performed at the University of Surrey showed that people are never happier than when they have a trip or holiday in the diary. That sense of an up and coming chance to take a break from ‘reality’ and escape the daily grind helps us to feel greater joy in our lives in the build-up, and in turn, we feel more positive about our health, lives in general and even our finances!
With further studies showing that we derive real pleasure from the anticipation of an experience such as a holiday, booking that time away could be the exact medicine you need to help lift stress, anxiety or the onset of depression which can so easily develop through feeling stuck in a daily grind or difficult situation.
Travel More – Stress Less
The Department of Physiology at the Medical University of Vienna, Austria, created a study comprising of 191 busy, stressed-out ‘white collar workers’ to look at how travel affected their mental health and well being.
Health benefits were found to occur in the participants after even just a long weekend away with stress significantly decreased and improvements still showing after 30 days post-holiday. Overall wellbeing was also seen to remain at an improved level after 45 days, and the reason behind this could be found in a study from the Centre for Cultural Studies and Analysis. They discovered that a holiday, “…with a short list of [daily] activities [and feeling] freed up from the complexities of on-going projects and relationships, [reset] the mind…[and] the body, with stress relief being the main outcome.”
Lower Anxiety and Ease Your Mind
In an ever-changing world, the ability to adapt and respond quickly and calmly to any number of possible situations, types of people and outcomes is so important and, when we feel unable to, we can develop anxiety as we panic over when the next awkward, difficult or uncomfortable occasion may present itself.
Cognitive flexibility is what is required to help us deal with the ups and downs of life with ease and without too much panic and stress. It helps with our ability to ‘step’ between different tasks and comfortably consider multiple situations at once with a clear mind, as well as enabling us to solve problems creatively. Developing your cognitive flexibility helps to not only reduce your underlying sense of anxiety and stress, but it can also offer positive benefits throughout your life, from education to work life and beyond.
Now, experts, including author and Professor Adam Galinsky of the Columbia Business School, have discovered the link between travelling and spending time in other cultures and how it can help to stimulate your neuroplasticity which is what allows you to behave and react more creatively in any given situation.
Exposure to new experiences such as the sounds, tastes, sensations, scents and sights of a new country can bring previously unused or rarely used synapses to life, sparking them into action and thus benefitting your mind in profoundly positive ways. Upon your return from spending time listening to an unknown language and trying to find your way around a new city or country, you will feel more mentally agile and alert and ready to get back to reality with a ‘spring in your mental step’.
From staving off burn out and being more productive to strengthening bonds of love with the friend, family member or partner you travel with, travel is beautiful all-round medicine for the psychological stresses and strains found in 2019.
For help in planning your health needs ahead of your holiday, get in contact with the experts at Click Pharmacy who can offer you a private and confidential appointment over the phone or on email to assist you with any element of your travel needs, from contraception and migraine medication to anti-malarial and more. Planning will help ease any pre-holiday stresses, so speak to the professionals and get ready for a beautiful holiday.
Karen Beddow founded Mini Travellers in 2014 while doing what she loves most...going on holiday!
Mini Travellers is for parents looking for holiday ideas, destination reviews, days out and things to do with the kids. We also have family travel tips, activity ideas and all other things family holiday related. Take a look at some of our latest reviews for holidays and day trips in the UK.