The Power Of Travel To Promote Positive Mental Health

by Sasha Selkirk

Did you know that Americans shell out for 192 million KitKats per year or that the Brits devour 564 fingers every second? Probably not, and you’re probably wondering what the hell this all has to do with holidays and our mental health?

KitKat worked it out when they coined the slogan “Have a break, have a KitKat” because we all need a break once in a while. There’s no shame in wanting to tap-out from reality for a few days, and there’s nothing so freeing as the complete suspension of work, responsibility and routine.

Travel is not so much about the physical journey as the mental and a holiday means more than just discovering somewhere new or topping up the tan. You don’t have to blow the bucks on a luxury spa break or trendy yoga retreat to look after your mind, soul and body.

Travel has the power to open up your mind, calm your soul and maintain your mental well being. Here’s how:


You’ll get those endorphins pumping


Regardless of what you have planned for your holiday, you’ll be surprised how many more steps you’ll rack up every day. You might be hiking a mountain, city sightseeing or just lazing about on a sun lounger. You’ll be surprised how many steps it takes to walk between the pool bar and your sun lounger. The majority of UK workers spend between 4 – 9 hours sat at a desk per day (sad but true), so every extra step you take on holiday is towards a healthier body and mind. There’s nothing like physical activity to get those happy chemicals flowing and positive mental health.


You’ll learn about the world around you

A holiday might be relaxing, but that doesn’t make it lazy. You’ll experience another way of life and learn so much about other cultures and customs along the way. There’s nothing lazy about expanding your mind and upping your awareness. We inhabit such a beautiful and varied planet, get out and explore it.


You’ll learn about yourself


Travelling is not only about discovering the world; it’s an internal journey of self-discovery too. The cliché “I found myself in (insert country)” has become virtually synonymous with gap-year students sampling psychedelics around South-East Asia but there’s much more to it than that. Separated from your home, your wardrobe and the rest of your ‘things’ you’ll discover your identity outside of all things material. You’ll find out just what it is that makes you unique and learn to love yourself for it.


Getting away helps you to gain perspective

Taking a breather from life and leaving your everyday stresses behind is not the same as running away from your problems. See it as an opportunity to step back and look at things in a different light. Detached from the emotion and the pressure of the now. You’ll see things for what they really are and return ready to take on whatever challenges with a sense of rationality and level-headedness.


Get your dose of vitamin D


A quarter of the UK population is vitamin D deficient (rising to a third in winter!) Which is no surprise when we get so little sun. The “sunshine vitamin” is vital to maintain bone, cell and heart health. It boosts your immune system and keeps those “winter blues” at bay. Vitamin D deficiency is linked to depression, and so it’s imperative to show our skin a little sun when we can.


You get outside of your comfort zone

Travel, especially solo travel, can sometimes feel like throwing yourself into the deep end without knowing how to swim. An unknown city, foreign foods, and an unintelligible language can seem a daunting scenario at first. Really it’s a sea of opportunities. You’ll have fun overcoming the barriers, and the experience will teach you how to cope with whatever life chucks your way and give you the confidence to step outside of that comfort zone more often.


You’ll discover a newfound appreciation for what you have


There’s nothing like travel for reminding you just how remarkable your life really is. You escape reality only to find yourself missing precisely what you are running away from. It might be the little things, like your mum’s roast potatoes and your PG Tips (Lipton you just can’t cut it), or the bigger. That joke you told that nobody laughed at, your best mate would have been in hysterics. That fantastic tapas restaurant where your dad would have loved those croquetas. Travel has a way of making you remember what you value most and exposes the beauty hidden behind the banal of your everyday.


Here’s to happiness; here’s to holidays and our positive mental health.

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