How great is it to soak yourself in clear blue water, breathe in the fresh air, bask under the warm sun, and marvel at the magnificent sight before you?
Everyone has their dream destination. However, not everyone can easily book a flight and leave. Some people badly want to visit their dream destination but are held back by depression and other mental illnesses.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), 15 million Americans have a major depressive disorder. Based on their findings, going on a vacation is not an answer to depressive disorders.
Going on a vacation is an impulsive move and easy escape to some people. Chances are, you may experience worse depressive symptoms and make things worse for you if you go on a vacation.
Planning for a trip is stressful. Coordinating your transportation, hotel, and activities to go smoothly is an overwhelming task. Because of this, many people prefer to plan and schedule their trips early to reduce stress.
You also have to consider the unexpected inconveniences of traveling, such as delayed flights and bad weather. If you plan to carry your baggage of depression, you will surely come back from your trip with even heavier baggage.
It is always best to plan ahead of time so you can have less stressful options. Before going on a vacation, you should recognize stress factors and signs that may require medical attention.
To relieve yourself of your depression, here are some travel tips that you have to consider while traveling:
More people are traveling during these times. Families with little kids usually travel during these times. If you are an anxious traveler, you will surely be triggered by the noise of little children.
Where you are going is also very important. Traveling abroad can trigger your depression due to the intensive preparation needed to get out of the country. You also have to consider the adjustments you have to make because of time zone changes.
Instead, consider traveling domestically for the long weekend. It doesn’t require too much preparation, and there will be fewer problems during your trip.
You are going on a trip with a depressive mood. It is likely that the smallest things will easily trigger you during your trip. You may easily get annoyed due to lack of sleep, forced socialization, and inconveniences when things don’t go the way you planned.
You are planning to leave your everyday life behind. You haven’t found the solution to your problem that is causing you to go on vacation impulsively. Do you think your problems will disappear if you are on a trip? If you think that you will feel worse when you come back from your trip, it is best not to pursue it at all.
Mental Health Benefits of a Vacation
Traveling is not generally bad if you have depression. It is considered the healthiest form of addiction and can actually be beneficial for most people. Traveling is good for your mental health because it reduces stress and anxiety. Traveling only becomes a problem if it is viewed as the only cure to your problems.
Here are some of the benefits of traveling:
Being far away from the daily stress you feel can bring down your depression and make you feel more relaxed. When you are more relaxed, your brain and body can recover to function better.
Planning a frequent vacation can be beneficial to your mental health. Looking forward to another trip in the future creates happiness within you.
You can see the advantages of going on a trip if you plan to do this regularly. Travel helps clear your head of unnecessary thoughts and worries. This makes it easier for you to return home and be ready to go back to work.
Because of depression, your brain cannot function properly. You have poor memory retention, cannot focus, and fail to make goals for yourself. Going on a trip will help improve your mental abilities.
Exposure to new places and things brings fresh ideas to the mind. Interacting with different people clears your mind of the problems you are currently facing. Immersing yourself in a new place can boost your creativity and make you more relaxed.
According to the Harvard Business Review, you should not skip your vacation. The Harvard Business Review study showed that traveling could improve productivity, spur creativity, and lessen stress.
In deciding which destination country to go to, you have to first check the country’s level of acceptance of mental health by considering the following:
- Forced admission. Is it normal in that country to voluntarily enter a mental treatment facility? Or will they force you to enter a facility due to your disturbing behavior?
- Poor psychiatric facilities. Are the facilities clean and well-kept? Are the facilities conducive for a patient who requires treatment?
- Availability of mental health professionals. Can these healthcare providers speak your language? Are they willing to accommodate you even for a short period of time?
You should also check your insurance to see if it can cover your medical expenses abroad. Getting medical treatment during an emergency can cost tens of thousands of dollars.
Traveling is good if it is done in a healthy way. It can bring relief to a person and make them happy. The problem starts when you have to go home and face your realities. Travel then becomes a temporary escape, a short pause before you deal with your problems again.
Coming home from a trip means you are back to your daily routine while suffering from jet lag. You are sad that the trip is over and the next one is uncertain.
The trip you took could also make you rethink your life. It made you realize you have a problem and you need help.
Some can manage and control their depression. Thus, they can travel safely. If you struggle with managing your mental illness, such as bipolar disorder, it is best to consult your doctor if traveling is advisable.
If you have bipolar disorder, you are often in a depressive mood, which is a challenge when traveling.
If you are traveling with someone who has a mental illness, make sure to consider your own health. If you feel that you are unwell to accompany them, let them know as soon as possible so they can look for someone else to accompany them.
Coordinate with your healthcare provider if they can link you to a qualified mental health professional at your destination to provide medical advice during an emergency.
If you have depression, you would know your reactions to uncomfortable situations such as being away from home, an unavailable support system, and exposure to a new culture. You are prone to poor judgment, and you could put your life and the lives of others in danger.
In the event that something triggers your anxiety, it is best not to pursue your plans of traveling. This trigger may cause substance abuse or violent social interactions.
If life-changing events such as death, illness, and important work concerns happen prior to your departure, it is best to postpone your trip. Traveling while these events are happening back home can greatly affect your mental health and social interactions.
On most vacations, you tend to become more active. You prefer to walk more and explore the new city you’re in. Engaging in physical activity can increase your mood and is beneficial to your mental health.
You should give importance to your sleep hygiene. Being able to sleep well for 7–8 hours every night can positively impact your overall mood.
If you are bringing medication with you, you have to check if you can enter the country with that particular medication. You can inquire about what documents you can bring with you as proof of the medication’s necessity.
Gaining new experiences from traveling improves your brain function, mental health, and overall well-being. Traveling allows you to meet amazing people who live extraordinary lives. These people show you the beauty of life from a different perspective.
Curing depression is not magic. You have to fight until you are mentally strong enough to take on that trip of your life.
With the help of the Kentucky Counseling Center (KCC), you can now go on your trip without missing any therapy sessions while on your vacation. KCC offers tele-mental health counseling services so you can continue with your therapy sessions wherever you are in the world.