10 ways traveling can help you fight depression

It paralyses you. Holds you in its grip and even though you fight constantly to set yourself free, it keeps finding its way back to you. Depression can ruin you. It controls your life, your fears and even your pleasures. It comes in different levels of intensity, but the symptoms are mostly the same. While not everyone can be cured, everyone can find ways to help deal with it. Traveling is one of them. It’s the one that saved my life. And here is why:

1. It makes you feel good

Let’s admit it. The world is beautiful place. Wandering around the globe, discovering all the wonders that Mother Nature created, how can it not put a smile on your face? Traveling just makes you feel good. Whether it is because of the views, or the excitement of going somewhere new, it usually brings out the happy in you, one way or another. Give it a try. Get out of your bubble, and spend a week or a weekend in a different place. Somewhere you have never been before. You won’t regret it!

2. You get out of your bubble

This is probably the hardest thing to do, but if you can take this step, and experience something completely different, you will be able to realize that there is so much more out there. There is a high correlation between depression and zones of comfort, and it is often advised to take some risks or to challenge your routine to get out of the comfort zone. Taking risks helps eliminating fear and creates new thinking and new behaviors. I’m not telling you to jump out of a plane, but just do something that you haven’t done before. You don’t have to go far. Take a bus to the closest city, pick up a new activity such as kayaking or rock climbing. The more you face your fears, the more you will want to do go out and explore, and the faster you will heal.

3. You face your fears

Going to a totally new place is already scary enough as it is. But once you reach that step, you will feel a little more empowered, and the more you travel, the stronger your will become. Facing your fears brings out excitement and sometimes even adrenaline, both needed to speed up your heart and make you feel completely alive. Traveling will make your heart race again, so go ahead, and book a trip!

4. It keeps your mind busy

Traveling usually includes a great deal of planning and organization. Preparing for a trip is a good way to keep your mind busy and away from all negativity. The busier you are, the less you allow your mind to wander off into dark places. In addition to planning and preparing, taking a trip is good to keep you busy. Most of the time when you are traveling, you are too busy taking pictures and discovering new places that your mind is full of (hopefully wonderful) thoughts.

5. It REDUcES anxiety

Yes, traveling might be a little stressful at times, especially when it comes to planning and flying and making sure that nothing goes wrong. But in the end, the experience itself will reduce a load of anxiety in your system. On top of that, traveling itself is a perfect way of relaxing. Because you get to do whatever you want to do, whenever you want to do it. Want to spend a day at the beach? Do it. Want to go on a hike? Go for it. Want to explore everything that a city has to offer? You go. And that is the most relaxing part of traveling. You do whatever you want. And on top of that, you get to meditate, get lost in nature, and get plenty of sunlight (which increases your levels of serotonin).

6. You become more active

It comes then to no surprise that traveling leads to a more active lifestyle. Unless you spend a week playing couch potato on the beach sipping on cocktails (which is fine as well), you will be spending quite some time walking around or going on hikes. And being active not only improves your mental health, it also increases your self-esteem and reduces stress and anxiety significantly! Furthermore, it boosts your energy and improves your mood, and you’ll end up in better shape too!

7. You create a whole new bond with nature

When you travel, the bond you make with nature will change your way of thinking. And yes, I’m talking straight up bonding time. By traveling more and spending a significant amount of time outside you will start feeling a deep connection to our mother earth. You will start understanding things with more significance, and this bond will make you feel fully satisfied. Spending time relaxing and meditating in nature will bring to you a sense of calmness and control.

8. You increase your social skills

Increasing your social skills is a very good way to help fight depression. Time spent on your own can be mentally destructive. It’s always good to be around people, and especially those with a positive attitude. And this is the kind of attitude you will find during your travels. Traveling souls are usually the happiest ones to be around. They are filled with love, excitement and compassion.If you are traveling alone (which is much different than just spending time alone), it will be good to work on your social skills. Not only will you make new friends from different cultures and lifestyles, you will also become more courageous and independent. Participate in local social activities, meet some new people at your hostel or go out and make new friends at the bar! Regardless of how you do it, socializing will help you increase your positive vibes, and who doesn’t like a good flow of positive energy?

9. It challenges your negative thinking

“I can’t do this.”
“Maybe i’m not good enough.”
“I’m worthless… I’m useless…”You’ve heard those before right? That little voice in the back of your head? It’s hard to find happiness when all your sense of self-worth and independence have been destroyed. Trust me, I know exactly how that feels. I struggled with depression for almost ten years. But the good news is that you can change that! You can work on it every day to improve how you feel about yourself and about life. And traveling is a good way to do that. By facing your fears and exploring the unknown on a daily basis, you constantly find yourself in a situation where you have to be courageous and independent. Over time, you will start feeling stronger and more powerful.

10. It brings you a new purpose

Once you start traveling, you will realize that most of your issues came from being in your comfort zone. Your lifestyle, friends, family and so on are not the sole purpose of your negative state of mind, but contribute to it more than you would imagine. Once you leave all of that behind you give new purpose to your life. When you travel, you can be or become whoever you want. You will also start realizing that things that used to matter a lot in your previous life don’t matter in another place of the world. Use that new purpose to kick depression in the butt and do what makes you happy. The more you travel, the more you see this new purpose take form, and the happier you will become as a person.

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  • Miranda Knudtson

    These are all SO true! Especially #10, you create new goals with traveling!

  • Yes! Getting out of your bubble is key for breaking a slump. Great list.

  • foreverroamingtheworld

    I can relate to so many of these points myself, 9 and 10 are the most prominent for me. There are a lot of internal demons that like to try and get out but when I’m traveling I seem to be able to keep them at bay. For so many of us, traveling is so much more than just traveling (if that makes sense?)

    • Wallis

      Exactly! It’s not about getting rid of the demons, but about keeping them at bay by traveling. And it completely makes sense. Traveling is so much more than traveling. We all have our own reasons to travel, but to those prone to depression, traveling is a way to free ourselves from the trap we constantly live in otherwise!

  • I agree with you fully, travel can definitely be a cure to depression and how! facing your fears is one of the biggest tool to fight anxiety in my experience. Thanks for writing this one. 🙂

    • Wallis

      Yes! And even if it doesn’t cure the depression, it definitely keeps it at bay. Traveling is such a relief on the brain, when you constantly have to fight internal demons!

  • Medha Verma Bector

    Does travel actually help in reducing anxiety? I agree its a great way to take care of your mental health in terms of facing your fears and making you a more confident person but even though I’m usually a calm person, there are times when I’m on a trip and some situations make me slightly nervous or anxious. I wonder how these kind of situations are handled by someone who is already afflicted with anxiety issues?

  • Becca Talbot

    I definitely agree that travel can help with depression – when I was having a difficult time at the beginning of the year I decided to just book flights to the cheapest country that was hot and I hadn’t already been to. It was just what I needed. I’m not sure if it helps reduce anxiety though… I made friends with a girl in Berlin, and she had an anxiety attack while crossing the middle of a busy road in Potsdammer. She said she’s still having the attacks while travelling the rest of Europe 🙁 x

    • Wallis

      The traveling itself can definitely make you anxious. In the bigger picture traveling helps a lot in reducing general levels of anxiety, but situational anxiety can definitely often take the best of us. I’ve been in plenty of situations where I almost had an anxiety attack too, so I can definitely relate to your friend in Berlin! But in general, traveling has made me a less anxious person 🙂