Pack your bags and get out of town — why travel is good for your mental health
Want to shed stress and boost your creativity? Think about a trip out of town.
After two years of staycations and cancellations of plans, this summer seems like great time to spread your wings and plan a big vacation, weekend or day trip to a favorite spot or somewhere new.
"Time away from work and the routines of daily life (such as cooking, laundry and chores around the house) has multiple potential benefits for your mental health," said Gina Rees, LCSW, staff therapist with The Center for Integrative Counseling and Psychology, an avid traveler and explorer who has several trips under her belt this year. "Employers encourage us to take our vacation time. Research shows it can increase happiness and help prevent depression, but it can also help you recover from burnout and enhance creativity. Planning and anticipating a trip can boost your energy and stimulate you as well.
“Travel is a great connector to the world and people around us. If you are stressed, you are often unable to connect with the present. But when you travel, you are in a different environment forcing you to be aware of your surroundings.
"This can lead us to be more mindful of those around us and grow. Travel is the best teacher to help us expand our views - literally and cognitively. Whether you are in Memphis, San Francisco, New York or another country, soak in the local culture. See the local sites and expand your palate with the local foods. Take in all the area has to offer. You will be refreshed, revived and rejuvenated.
"I work collaboratively with my clients to develop new and healthier ways of coping with life's challenges and difficulties. My goal is to help people look towards the future with hope and a new way of thinking. I believe traveling helps us all do that.
"If you can't get away, I always encourage my clients to get out in nature and take a mindful walk - notice the trees, flowers and cute dogs. Notice birds and different songs. Connecting with nature is therapeutic."
About Gina Rees, LCSW, staff therapist
Gina Rees, LCSW, specializes in helping adults and teens suffering from mental illness, relationship issues, depression, anxiety, grief, and other life transitions. One of her favorite quotes comes from author Henry Cloud, “We change our behavior when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing.” Her areas of focus include:
- Coping with divorce, blended families
- Depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts
- Domestic violence recovery
- EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy)
- Grief and loss
- Life changes/transitions