Depending on the struggle, people can often do well just by removing themselves from the situation that plagues them. If someone is struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, creating some space between them and specific social groups or habit-inducing settings can provide room for healing. If the disorder is anxiety or depression, simple activities that are outside the normal routine can be refreshing.
Traveling is one of the best remedies for internal struggles. Whether it’s taking a trip alone or in a group — and whether it’s to see family and friends or just to do it alone — there are definitive aspects of traveling that helps with a person’s mental wellness.
Change of Scenery
Sometimes seeing the same buildings, driving the same roads, passing the same gas stations — generally going through the same routine — can feel monotonous and put someone in a rut. New events and activities, even something as simple as seeing a new street corner or starting the day in a new bed, can boost a person’s mood and self-confidence.
Marta Estevez, a travel expert and co-founder of The Passport Memorandum, told Forbes that people can feel trapped when in the same place for too much time. He has been to more than 10 countries and feels the most fulfilled when outside of his normal routine.
Meeting New People
People who struggle with a substance use disorder often face obstacles due to their social connections. They might have friends who also misuse drugs or alcohol to a dangerous level and either feel pressured to join in or can succumb to the cravings simply from exposure to these substances.
People who have an anxiety disorder or struggle with depression can likewise face daily burdens from their relationships, both socially and with family members. Meeting new people, even someone who will not remain a long-term friend can be beneficial.
Well, meeting new people equates to a chance to let go of anxieties or worries about the perceptions of others. As Tiffany Grace Devereaux explains on Huffington Post, “Part of my anxiety causes me to put a lot of stake into what other people think. I worry about things I’ve said or didn’t say. I worry about offending or upsetting people, I find myself explaining myself a lot.”
Devereaux continues that she cares less when away from her regular home. The authenticity that comes from not worrying about how other people might view you can be liberating. Doing so can also put social anxieties into a long-term perspective and help when the trip ends and life back home resumes.
The days, maybe even weeks, leading up to a trip can be exciting. Planning where to go, where to stay, what to eat and things to do can provide a therapeutic exercise to take one’s mind off of their struggles, whether it’s substance misuse or mental illness.
Having something to look forward to in general will create something positive to point to,” Devereaux says in her Huffington Post article, “even when your anxiety is trying to convince you that everything is bleak.”
This mental exercise also can help people who are struggling with addiction and attempting to begin or continue their recovery. Anything that isn’t harmful and takes the mind off of something negative can be immensely positive.
From long plane rides, sitting in an airport, taking a break in a hotel room, to a walk through the downtown streets of a new city, or way out in the suburbs, all of these activities amount to relaxation, finding some personal time without the hustle and bustle of home-life obligations, or anything else that can bring on anxiety or stress.
Traveling often includes daily activities, whether it’s taking a tour or visiting a landmark, but planning for downtime is important. Taking trips is often an escape from work or other responsibilities, and constantly being on the go can become exhausting.
If you or someone you know is addicted to drugs or alcohol, entering rehabilitation is likely to be the best way to begin the recovery process. Traveling to a new place or seeing friends or family members on a vacation can come once rehab finishes and a healthy foundation is in place. Co-occurring mental health disorders such as anxiety or depression can often impact a person’s attempt to begin or continue their recovery, and The Recovery Village has treatment facilities with knowledgeable professionals who can help with addiction and mental illnesses.