How Travel Defeats Depression
There are many travel defeats depression and none of them are easy. Traveling has taught us more than we would have ever guessed it would have. It's almost a shock to your perception of life when you return. You wonder how you could have thought the way you used to. You see the world through different eyes and you will never be the same. We have been Psych Nurses now for nearly 10 years and travel has taught us more than any book, class, or experience in clinic to understand depression and how it can be defeated. The 7 things that traveling has taught us, are life lessons we strive to follow, but also find it hard to do so. The only way to really get how these lessons fit, is to travel. Travel the world and transform your mind.
1. The 24 Hour Rule
- Strive to plan your life no more than 24 hours in advance. This is not especially easy for most of us. It was easy for me to do while traveling, but when we get back home from the trip, this approach was a great deal harder. Nevertheless, we are trying. There are of course, some things you cannot plan 24 hours ahead. However, “day-to-day life stuff” can and should be planned only 24 hours ahead of time Try it out. This alone can greatly decrease stress and help defeat depression. When you're not worrying about the future and what needs to be done next week, next month, next year. You start to realize that life is substantially more effortless and stress free when you plan your travel and life without an itinerary.
2. Changing Perspective
- Developing a World Perspective. This is one of the most important things we have learned. While traveling to locations that do not have the luxury and conveniences we are accustomed to, we understood better how much we took for granted. It’s easy to sit back and grumble that you don’t possess a nicer car, or extra money in the bank, but when you fully grasp how little others have in MOST of the world and see it first hand, you really gain PERSPECTIVE. Not only a world perspective but a life perspective. Changing your perspective of others is key to changing your own perspective. Changing your perspective will change your life and this is how travel defeats depression.
3. Gaining Tolerance
- Tolerance. A world perspective includes increasing tolerance of other people and situations. You meet and network with people from a completely different social and economic status, culture, and belief systems. This enables you to comprehend that “we are all humans on the planet earth”. Think about that…. we are all humans on the planet earth. Tolerance of other people assists you realize we need tolerance of ourselves. It helps you keep grounded in what is important. Tolerance also helps you adapt to circumstances that are out of your control and helps you learn patience. These are all attributes that you will develop from international travel help defeat depression.
4. Developing Empathy
- Seeing the world through another’s eyes. The term empathy originated in psychology (translation of a German term, c. 1903) and has now come to mean the ability to imagine or project oneself into another person's position and experience all the sensations involved in that position. This is a specific thing we never expected from travel. How do others see you and the land you come from? Travel will open your eyes to our current world and brings you to a new realization about who you are and where you come from. Many countries have 1 month or more of paid vacation per year. Many people in other countries of the world travel once they graduate college or high school or both and call it a "gap year". They obtain a perspective of other cultures that we as U.S. citizens only get from the internet and news. We would have never realized how other countries see OUR world and OUR country, had we never traveled internationally and being familiar with their views has helped us significantly.
5. Taking Time to Heal
- Mental Break vs. Vacation. Travel defeats depression only if you understand the difference between travel and a vacation. We believe that 2 weeks of vacation a year is generally not enough. Not enough time to recharge our mental batteries, and not enough time to truly relax. By the time you get settled in a spot, and get over jet lag and any intestinal adjustments… it’s time to go home. This is a typical vacation that requires you to cram-in as much as you can in the time allotted. Travel takes 1 month minimum. We need time to adjust and learn. We need time to be away from our cell phones, computers, traffic and the general heaviness of urban life. This cannot be achieved in the typical two-week vacation. When taking medications for depression and mental disorders, a good number of psychiatrists claim you need a month for medications to “take hold”. This is how long the brain takes to re-program and re-charge. It takes this long for brain chemistry to begin to change. This is a good thing….. otherwise rapid changes in brain chemistry would cause enormous leaps from depression to elation, minute to minute... If you need a “vacation”… TAKE ONE MONTH MINIMUM and travel!
6. Seek Excitement
- Excitement is the antithesis of boredom. Boredom = depression therefore Excitement = Happiness. We get so bogged down in our static, predetermined routines that we lose sight of what makes us happy. Things that previously would excite us…. no longer excite us. We become depressed. We need to start establishing more excitement in our lives. Travel achieves this for you! There is nothing like getting up each day in a place you know little about, with no genuine plans or places to be. Some would say this is scary, but in a way, fear is excitement. You will accomplished many things on your trip by creating excitement every day. We find it makes you feel more alive, happy and we believe why travel defeats depression.
7. Art of Letting it Go
- The Art of Letting It Go. Travel defeats depression if you follow your intuition and allow for life to take you on the path of least resistance. This key to eradicating stress and anxiety, (as well as depression) is letting go of the control we have developed through a conditioned life of planning. It isn’t until we let go of that control, that we discover that life has a plan… a design. We're not saying don't pay your bills, plan for retirement, or plan your children's education fund. We are saying that there is a lot in the life that don't really require careful planning and travel can be one of them. While traveling, we permitted intuition and circumstance to be our guide and didn’t worry where we ended up, or how we would get there. The anxiety simply melted away. We truly let go. What you will realize is that life isn’t any MORE stressful than if you try to control and plan every aspect of it. We learned that it doesn’t matter which road you go down and that perception is 90% of every situation. Let it go!
Change In Perspective
The epidemic of depression in the world is evident. Pop a pill, talk to this "expert" who knows nothing about you really and exercise seem to be the "prescription of the day". What about travel? Not a short vacation where you sit at a resort sipping Mai Tai drinks with umbrellas... however that is very nice too! But, really getting out to see the world and experience it. This is what we do at The Indefinite Journey. It's our philosophy of life. It's why we do the things we do. It's why we own very little personal possessions and lead this nomadic lifestyle. It's above all what makes us happy. Believe us when we say. Travel Defeats Depression! Why not try something different for your depression and take a trip?