When we are depressed all we can think about is the current situation, how the hell are you going to change it, it feels like it will never end! Travel can be an escape from the depressive life you are living and give you so much from even a week or two week experience of travelling even in your own country.
In this blog post the founder of Seek A Therapy discusses why travelling is so good for you and your mind.
1. Travelling by Aeroplane
When the Battle of Mind founder was in his initial stages of recovering from severe depression and anxiety he took the audacious step of travelling to Colombia, South America from Manchester,UK ..alone.. to meet a girl he had been learning Spanish with online, a girl he had met in the UK but had to go back to her home country as her student visa expired.
It was a total contrast of the reality of what his life had become but was surely the turning point in his health as it became the catalyst to him finding work, moving 200 miles away from his hometown for work and gave him a new lease of life!
As the plane took off and I looked down at the earth and saw the ground getting smaller and smaller the trees becoming like broccoli and cars looking no bigger than micromachines it changed his perspective on his own problems. He began to think
Are my problems really as bad as they seem? Am I making them bigger than they need to be? Look how small we are? Even the most powerful person on the planet is so small in comparison to the earth and if you look up the earth is even small in comparison to the universe and the universe to galaxy! This is silly!
Being able to take an aeroplane lets you not only lets you travel far but also makes you realise that we are small, fragile and here for a short period of time, taking time out of your difficult situation allows you to see ‘the big picture’ on the world and your life. It is never as bad as it seems.
For a perspective of how small our problem is , even though it feels big just take a glimpse at this video that explains the infinity of the universe. It will open your mind to the fact no problem is as big as it seems.
2. Travel allows you to meet inspirational people
Travelling across the other side of the world alone may have been the best thing the founder could have done. Along the way he met many people whom he spoke to on his travels. One particular gentleman from South Africa, a pensioner who had lived a full and varied life was on his flight from Manchester to Madrid, the halfway point to Colombia. This man happened to sit next to me and tell me all his life stories.
He was a man that was nearly murdered by burglars for some of his belongings but luckily managed to escape. He had taken part in a civil war and seen his friends blown to bits. He had also played semi professional football (soccer) and been a part of the radio industry technology when it was in its infancy.
He had seen so much and experienced many different scenarios in his life and the Seek A Therapy founder was in total awe.
To think, seven months ago the founder was considering taking his own life and this man was showing me how much he had been through but also the achievements he had accomplished showed me life is precious and that life isn’t always good and there are many challenges along the way but as long as you keep trying and you never give up…
travelling shows you that your life can be an incredible story.
2. Traveling teaches you to live an adventure
When you are travelling, unless you have a package holiday, everything is new and about making quick decisions and having to rely on yourself and your own ability to get about.
The uncertainty of where you are, where you need to go or how best to reach a destination makes you find your independence and inner Indiana Jones, prepared to take risks and that around every corner can be a new spectacle, a danger or a friend and makes life much more exciting and less of a problem than you thought it was before.
Around every corner is a new adventure
3. Different country different culture
Around these corners you travel you will find many different cultures, different customs and different values of what is important in life and in human relations. Experiencing different cultures opens your mind to realising just because you have lived a certain way and been taught that ‘this is the way to live’ is not necessarily correct. Life should be lived how is best for you, not the status quo, not what everyone else does just to fit in and travelling opens your eyes to the conformity of the society in which you have been brought up in and that different cultures may well suit your personality better than the one you have come to know so well.
Travelling will help you realise that although we live differently we are all in fact very similar and seek very similar life goals of love, family, relationships and comfort.
World cultures are one of the greatest riches of the world
4. Traveling helps you encounter compassion
When you travel you see people who are in dire need of help and support and it can really tug at your heart strings. When I have seen children begging in the streets of Colombia, possibly from gangs who put them there, or disabled people and young children desperate to sell me a pack of tissues you realise how much many people need love and compassion regardless of their situation.
Travelling makes you awaken to human suffering and to your human instincts to help others. When you return from your journeys you realise that petty little squabbles that maybe someone has insulted you or tried to bring you down is very small when you consider those people who suffer without any support.
Travelling can put your heart and focus firmly in the right place
5. Builds your confidence
Doing something where you know no one, you don’t know what places to avoid, you don’t speak the language and the food is down right bizarre pushes you outside your comfort zone and into a new world that once experienced, nothing will take you back to who you once were and will increase your ability to face the strange, the difficulties that life brings and change when it occurs will seem less difficult than before.
Travel builds your ability to accept life’s challenges with ease
6. Enjoy life again
The activities you undertake whilst abroad whether sunbathing or taking in new vistas, architecture or camel trekking across the Sahara desert will help you enjoy life again. When you become depressed it is hard to see the wood through the trees and by choosing to take time to travel, if only to a new village or city you have never been before can excite your senses and help you realise the world has many experiences to enjoy and that you are the only person stopping yourself from seeing the beauty of this world we live in.
Travelling allows you to enjoy life again
7. Allows you to appreciate the beauty of the world that sometimes is lost in difficult life situations
The natural world in which we live IS beautiful. Yes we see our cities and hometowns all the time, lots of people and yes, people are beautiful too but by god, have you actually seen natures true beauty? When you travel and you look down over the earth from an aeroplane window and you see the curves of the mountains, the clouds floating on by, the turquoise seas of the Caribbean ocean or the farmed land that looks like a patchwork quilt it makes you realise, this planet is beautiful and that having depression is stopping you from enjoying the fruits that this world has to offer.
Travelling helps you appreciate nature and the planets diversity
8. You can allow yourself to relax and destress
When we are constantly in a situation that is difficult in our minds and we can’t seem to escape it because we are surrounded by the same four walls, the same city and the same people we begin to think that is all there is to the world and can be a very stressful experience.
When you travel you leave your cares and worries behind, if only for a week or two if you cannot travel on a permanent basis and allows you to become yourself again, relaxing and distressing as you do.
What I love most about travelling is that you realise how small you are in comparison to the world, to the universe and the galaxy and if you are that small then how small is your problem of depression that resides in your head? I know it feels massive when you are experiencing it but when you travel it becomes tiny!
Travel helps you relax and destress from worries and makes you realise the worry isn’t so big after all.
9. Widens your knowledge & opens your mind
As you travel and see new places your knowledge expands. New sights, new sounds, new culture, new buildings, new ways of thinking, new philosophies, new ideas, new people, new everything!
When you start travelling your thirst for knowledge and culture opens and the more you consume the more you need and the more it makes your brain buzz with excitement in the realisation there is more to life than what we first thought.
Travel widens your knowledge and opens your mind
10. Memories that are golden
In life time is the most precious thing you can own and what you do with that precious gift is what makes the difference. By spending time travelling, seeing new things and meeting new people will give you memories captured in time that are never replaceable. Everything material in this world IS perishable, NOTHING is permanent.
A house that you ‘own’ paying off each month until you retire is one day, not going to exist, albeit it may be passed down through the generations and yes, a house can have memories but is it as powerful and mind expanding as travelling to as many countries as you possibly can in your life?
Do you want to sit on your death bed, look back and say ‘I had a nice house and brought up good kids’ or do you want ot say ‘wow, i went to so many places, saw so many things, learnt so much and met some amazing people’.
Travel creates memories that will make you proud when old
11. New places help us become more resourceful
When we travel we have travel money, we have to budget, we have to consider what to do with our time, we have to rely on ourselves and making quick decisions.
By travelling to new places we take ourselves out of that situation that we are constantly thinking about and into a place of having to think about where we need to go, what we want to do and being aware of our surroundings.
Travelling makes us more resourceful with our money, decisions and thoughts
12. Returning with new perspectives
Once your adventures are over and you are returning back to your homeland sometimes you come back with a new perspective on life. For the founder, after travelling to the other side of the world alone he came back with more fire and determination to change his life than he did before travelling. The way in which he thought about his problems seemed smaller, his confidence was renewed, nothing was bothering him as much as it did before. 2 weeks after returning he found a job and then moved 200 miles away for his next adventure…
The last sentence is a way of travelling even when finances don’t allow (see how I funded my initial travelling here)or your passport makes it harder to go to new places; by getting a job in a new city, with new people in your country that too can be just as powerful as travelling for fun.
Travelling can help you overcome depression
Travelling may have been the biggest catalyst for change in the Battle of Mind founder’s life, for you it may not be but whether it is or not it is in my belief that travel can only do wonders for your health, your mind and your life and must be an important part of anyones agenda to live a full meaningful life.
Has travel changed your life? Please comment in the box below.