Originally, I wrote on the ‘mental health benefits of travelling’ in my “Solo Travel Guide: Dubrovnik, Croatia” and how it helped me recover from one of the worst years of my life prior to dropping out of University. I published the hefty guide on the 1st of May 2018 and have since received generous and constructive feedback from friends & family. However, Mental Health awareness week is now upon us and I feel that the content written deserves its own platform to receive more exposure…
Why and how did travelling solo benefit me?
Having dropped out of University so suddenly and out of the blue… I had an urge to break away from everything; society, friends, family, responsibilities, work and life in general. My mental health was at it’s all time worst, depression and anxiety seemed to flood into my life out of nowhere. One moment I was loving the independent life, when suddenly I found it so terrifying and exhausting, each day as draining as the next. It got to the point where I spent days on end in my bedroom, phone on Do Not Disturb, feeling sorry for myself and smoking myself silly.
It took months to get myself out of the constant haze, dreaming of travelling the world and escaping my comfort zone… but making absolutely no movements towards it! Finally, 6 months later in June I booked my first Solo Trip to Naples – and then onto Dubrovnik in October! Both times were fairly short notice and unplanned, booked at times when I felt lost and unmotivated. I feel that time alone (in a non-destructive environment) is often needed to reclaim that much-needed head space. Others often ask why I don’t invite them to travel with me, or whether I get bored travelling solo? The answer is simple, and often annoying to repeat.
Unfortunately, also suffering with social anxiety which can be overwhelming in most environments back at home… Travelling solo allows me to recreate myself and take pride in making new connections, and gaining genuine happiness. Often I spend all my energy forcing happiness day in day out around others to hide my inner demons, whereas being in my own presence thousands of miles away from any potential daily stress allows me to be completely free.
It is proven that social interactions fire up the brain’s reward system, triggering the release of happiness inducing hormones (seratonin). The adrenaline you get from meeting people from a whole new culture is exhilarating, and when you travel alone you’re instinctively more sociable. Without a known companion to fall back on, or in my twisted mind-set, judge you… you become far more likely to reach out to people you meet on your ventures! Your tendency to look outwards at those around you – rather than inwards to those you’re travelling with – means you’re better able to meet and interact with new strangers. For this reason I cannot wait to travel Thailand in November 2018!
People always talk about ‘how much you learn about yourself’ when you travel, just as often as people ask whether you’re travelling to ‘find yourself’? But no-one talks about the mental health benefits of taking the world on solo! Travelling alone is like constant CBT therapy (facing/doing what you’re afraid of, in order to overcome the fear). Bombarded by thoughts that I was incapable of surviving on my own, “I wouldn’t even know how to board the plane, wouldn’t find my hostel, wouldn’t wake up before 3pm, wouldn’t make any new friends because im so socially incapable…” – all of this negativity was quickly squashed. As I proved to myself that I was capable, and that I could handle life alone. My fear of the ocean was also squashed in the same way you could say… shoutout the sunset kayak tour!
This self-confidence was much needed after being crushed dropping out of University, plans for future travels quickly begun and articles were drafted… until I hit a bad patch which I’m only just seeing the end of. Again, I’m hoping Thailand will rise me out of it all.
Unfortunately, travelling and experiencing what the world has to offer will not cure your depression, nor your social anxiety… but it will certainly help alter your perception of the world and life itself! It is often said that depression is caused, or causes a negatively outlook on the world, therefore everything around you. ‘Negative thinking is simply thinking about what you do not want, while positive thinking is thinking about what you do want.’ Most of us are unconsciously addicted to negative thinking. Which is not just a bad habit, it can be a terrible addiction that is likely directly responsible for every other addiction suffer-able. I.e. food, drug, TV addiction are more than likely and attempt to escape ones own thoughts…
Judgement of others, self-judgement, perfectionism, worry, feeling sorry for others, hypothetical thoughts (“What if?”), complaining and self-doubt are all forms of negative thinking; and a sad but common part of everyday life for most.
Furthermore, the route to happiness that I have found is to escape the environment where all of the negative thoughts stem from, to alter my general negative outlook and perceptions of the world. Hence, this is the reason I believe solo travel can help/benefit mental health issues such as Depression, and Anxiety. Spending time planning, researching, dreaming and talking to others about future ventures is as rewarding as the 40 degree sun and sights you’ll see when you get there! Which is 90% of the reasoning behind why I first started this Travel Blog – Weary and Wandering. Future travel plans and the unknown is the only thing keeping me going right now!
“Mental Health Awareness Week (14 to 20 May 2018) is about stress and how we’re coping with it.
We’re focusing on helping employees and employers create a mentally healthy workplace where everyone feels valued and supported. We have a range of information, guidance and support on how you can achieve this.
We all know what it’s like to feel stressed – it’s part of everyday life. But when you’re overwhelmed by stress it may lead to mental health problems or make existing problems worse.
Mental Health Awareness Week 2018 is a great time to think about how we can all address the causes of work-related stress or find advice and support on managing stress in our daily lives.” – www.mind.org.uk
The focus is fitting for the article this week, travelling solo for me was an instant stress killer… and if anything helped me to better deal with stress in real life, everyday situations.
I do not usually agree with weeks, or months dedicated to a particular topic. As the calandar should not restrict when we can talk about a particular subject, especially Mental Health. But 2018 is a time of crisis, and exposure like this is vital all year round.
Available for anyone at all times 24/7 by e-mail or my socials…
Please SHARE this post to help branch out and potentially motivate others, the links to directly share to: facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, reddit or e-mail are below. Comment on the post if solo travelling has benefited you directly, or share other ways you cope with the stress of everyday life.