How Travelling Beneficial For Mental Health?  

Vacations are the best parts of our life where we do not think about any worries in our lives and just enjoy ourselves. Travelling makes some people feel calm, enthusiastic, etc. Some people like solo trips, some like road trips, and some like to travel with their loved ones. We do not only travel to have fun; in some situations, we have to travel for work. This travelling can be stressful and hectic, but all of us have to do it. But did you ever wonder that travelling can have positive as well as negative impacts on psychological or mental well-being?

Psychological changes due to international travel:

As per statistics, 11.3% of travelers suffer from some mental illness symptoms while traveling. At the same time, the acute psychotic episode is seen in 0.3% of travelers. According to incident data, one-fifth of travel-related mental illness show acute psychotic episodes. Factors like modification in sleeping and eating habits, travel-related stress, cultural shock, intake of alcohol and other substances, previously present brain pathology, and physical illnesses can contribute to psychosis for the first time (Flaherty et al., 2021).
Travelers who have no specific history of mental disorders and are medically fit are also at risk of having acute denovo psychosis while traveling. There are also disorders related to destinations like Jerusalem syndrome, Paris syndrome, and Stendhal Syndrome. Travelling to a destination of high altitude also increases the risk of developing acute psychotic episodes and also enhances the risk of suicidal ideation and completed suicide (Flaherty et al., 2021).

As per the evidence, a debilitating effect is seen due to jet lag on the mental health of the traveler. Due to sleep deprivation, an increase in the risk of hypomanic episodes is seen in individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder. This concludes that international traveling has a major contribution in the individual’s disruption of the circadian rhythm and several stressors which cause sleep deprivation (Flaherty et al., 2021).

Is Travelling suggested for individuals with mental illnesses?

Traveling is a leisure activity that is beneficial for individuals with mental illnesses (Flaherty et al., 2021). In the year 2004, almost 81% of the population from Dutch went on a holiday trip. The travelers marked a step ahead in their recovery as they were able to take a holiday trip (Pols & De Kroon, 2007). A similar quantitative study from The Netherlands was conducted. The study focused on how traveling contributes positively to the rehabilitation of psychiatric patients (Flaherty et al., 2021).

Positive experiences were observed, which consisted of maintenance in social contact, being able to develop foreign language skills, having cherishable memories, positive impact on self-esteem and being away from monotonous routines (Flaherty et al., 2021).

Another study conducted assessed the psychological well-being of travelers going to tropical regions. It showed that there was an increase in the psychological well-being of those individuals which was irrespective of gender and age differences.

They also saw that the positive effects of tourism reduced in the time period of one month, even if it was not exactly the same as prevacation. They also saw that winter vacations had more long-lasting benefits on psychological well-being (Laukkala et al., 2022).

Benefits of Tourism:

Many studies so far have examined the benefits of tourism. These benefits are based on several theories like bottom-up spillover theory, goal theory, etc. The bottom-up theory suggests that the life satisfaction of an individual is dependent on how they evaluate their life domains. The life domains include leisure, health, work, family, and friends, etc. The studies conducted on leisure travel resulted in showing that leisure trips can have an impact on positive life satisfaction after the holiday (Chen et al., 2016).

The goal theory explains that being able to achieve goals that are accessible and meaningful for oneself is linked with subjective well-being. An argument made by Sirgy says that people can benefit from having a leisure trip as a travel goal. This goal also has a level of attainability which can give the individual a sense of goal achievement. Chen et al. (2016) did not conduct empirical research in the sphere of tourism to test the aim theory.
In research conducted, perceived health and wellness were measured before and after a trip. The results suggested that after the trip people were happier, healthier and very relaxed. The results also showed that the effects of the trip lasted for about two to three weeks (Chen et al., 2016).

Challenges of traveling:

We all love travelling, but it is not easy to travel for all of the people around us. Some people might also need medical assistance for the same. Vacations are an important part of our lives. It gives us refreshments from our monotonous routines. But this can have its own benefits and drawbacks. The benefits include an increase in self-esteem and life satisfaction, and it makes you happier, healthier, and relaxed. The drawbacks can lead us to acute psychotic episodes or also to syndromes like Paris Syndrome, Stendhal Syndrome, and Jerusalem Syndrome. Even sleep deprivation, cultural shocks, change in eating habits, use of alcohol and substances, any previous brain pathology or physical illness increases the risk of experiencing psychosis for the first time. The studies show that the effects of these vacations only last for two to three weeks or up to one month after the trip.

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