3 Ways Travel Can Combat Depression

Jessica Peterson

3 ways travel can combat depression

When it comes to a case of the blues, I’ve found travel to be very helpful in combating depression. As any good counselor will tell you, sometimes the best remedy for what ails you is to simply step away from it all. What better way is there to do just that than to take an extended trip far away? If you are on the fence, unsure as to whether or not a good, long trip would do you any good, here are three ways travel can combat depression.

Getting Away from the Source

depression

Sometimes we are depressed for no logical reason whatsoever, but usually depression is caused by circumstances in our lives we feel powerless against. Perhaps the best remedy is to go where the source of your depression won’t be a constant reminder. Putting physical distance between yourself and someone who hurt you or a depressing situation — such as a stressful job or a breakup — can help. (If you are in school, seeking a degree in counseling, you could always transfer to an online counseling degree that would enable you to study on the road.)

In my twenties, I traveled solo to Jamaica after a bad breakup. That month away helped me find joy again, get my mind off the situation, and make new friends. I came home with new memories and plenty of funny stories to share with my friends.

Learning to Cope with the Unexpected

depression

Sometimes we stay depressed because we haven’t learned coping skills. Traveling is a great way to improve those skills for a few very good reasons. First of all, you are bound to run into a situation that requires creative thinking. Being out on the road miles from family and friends, you are left to your own devices. While learning how to change a flat tire, you are relying on your own resources and that’s something that comes in handy when dealing with depression.

After all, your best friend isn’t around the corner to give you a lift to the shop so you find that you really can do things alone. If your depression is due to the loss of a loved one through death or divorce, you may find that you are capable and can handle what life throws your way even when at home it seemed impossible.

Time Away from Social Media

depression

Finally, think about all the hours a day you spend on social media. Aren’t all those conversations you have a constant reminder of what’s troubling you? Friends near and far mean well but sometimes it’s the same conversations over and over again like salt in a wound. In fact, when you spend so many hours on social media you think of little else. Why not get out and away from the computer where you’ll have time to actually see and experience something new for a change? You’ll never know until you’ve tried.

Not only will traveling help to lift your depression, but you just might get a totally new lease on life! Maybe you’ll find somewhere interesting you’d like to live for a while, meet new friends or even get an introduction to a new job. There is so much to see and do while traveling that you certainly won’t have time to stay mired in your state of depression. And that is the best remedy of all.

You’ve heard the old saying “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” So, what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and get going. You’ll soon see how tough you truly are.

Please note: This post is not recommending travel as a substitute for seeking professional help when it comes to chronic depression or mental health problems.

Also read, Excuses We Make NOT to Travel and How to Overcome Them.

Do you agree? Does travel help depression?

Jessica Peterson
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Jessica Peterson

Jessica Peterson is a travel filmmaker, photographer, and journalist. She released her first documentary film about indigenous culture on Guam in 2016, after having lived nearly 7 years on the Pacific island. Jessica is currently on the Great American Roadtrip in her Airstream trailer.
Jessica Peterson
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  • Sonia Sahni

    Travel is such a mood lifter. When I was in investment banking, I used to be stressed so often that at times, it would impact my health. Travel helped me so much. I have taken a one year sabbatical to travel and never felt happier. Now ….I dont want to stop travelling 🙂

    • Oh man, that sounds stressful! Where are you traveling during your sabbatical?

  • Time away from social media is really important, and a hard one to self impose (especially for us bloggers!). I find that travel allows you to have a clear head and to think more too, which can always help with depression.

  • Ravenous Travellers

    I agree that time away from social media is so important – people can become so obsessed with it they don’t see what’s going on around them. Learning to cope with the unexpected is such a good point too! I found that travelling has really helped me to that and see the bigger picture in stressful situations.

  • La Vida Viva Travel

    Some great pointers, particularly getting away from social media. That’s probably the most effective but hardest thing for most people to do too. I think travel opens up your mind to bigger picture thinking and allows you see a lot of issues from a different perspective.

  • Interesting article and I can see your point. However, depression hit me right when I was travelling and I have to say that getting better, heal while you are on the road is the hardest task I had to face in my life. Anyway, love your blog and design! 🙂

    • Thanks for sharing your experience, Sabrina. Travel definitely isn’t a cure-all for anything. I’d be interested to hear your experience if you’d like to share it.

  • jacklyn.

    I couldn’t agree more that travel can help fight depression. I also applaud you for bringing up the topic and not sweeping it under the rug as most mental health issues are. I agree that getting away from social media can help in combating depression and can even be helpful for someone who is not traveling. I also love your photos btw!

  • Janine Good

    This is very timely as depression does spring on sometimes around the winter months. I find travelling so helpful to combat symptoms. I agree with unplugging from social media for a time as difficult as it is to do in this day and age!

    • Yes, the gray skies and cold weather definitely don’t have a “cheering” effect.

  • I totally agree – travel helps fight depression and occupy your mind with other things. I love being cut off from social media, it makes me feel a sense of peace. I just wish I had the discipline to switch off SM when I’m not traveling!

    • Oh me too. I don’t think I’d care about social media if it wasn’t part of my job.

  • Kathy James

    So true. I am please that conditions such as depression is more widely spoken about. As a nurse I find that hidden illnesses rather than a broken arm or leg is not widely spoken about.
    I really agree that moving away from social media can help. Everyone only posts only the positives or negetivey about their lives giving you a warped view.
    Also getting away from the problem can help.

  • Maerose JS

    Nice read

  • Chris Nash

    I think travel is a wonderful tonic for many things, depression amongst them!

    Lately I’ve been reading regularly about anxiety this generation now have when they lose access to Facebook, Instagram, etc which I find incredible!

    As you’ve said, disconnecting is great!

  • Never thought about this before, but it’s true. Much of travel gets you focused are basic, real and relevant problems like where am I going to sleep and what am i going to eat. Getting down to basics is mentally liberating for sure.

    • Yes, focused is right, but I also find travel so highly stimulating that I forget about the more mundane things back home.

  • Vyjay Rao

    Travelling to any place even if it is just for a short period of time can instantly rejuvenate you and make you feel so much better about your life, ease your tensions and wrecked nerves. Combating depression with travelling is the best way to find a completely new person.

  • Jennifer Riley

    There are aspects to travel that certainly help with my depression, much like you’ve mentioned here. On the other hand, the stress of travel can also build up and worsen depression – though that usually manifests on the return home.

    • Thanks for your candid comment, Jennifer. I agree that the stress of travel sometimes outweighs the benefits.