How travelling can help with depression

Depression and mental illness affect many and both impede on one’s ability to carry out daily activities. Multiple factors in one’s life can contribute to this: such as their career, their relationships, their studies, and more. Getting away from this is often the hope of a lot of people, including myself at times, so how can a break from the everyday be taken? The answer is travel, and many utilise travelling as a mechanism for escape. Travel, on the most fundamental level, offers escapism. It literally involves escaping the area in which you live and seeing another, subsequently leaving behind all of the burdens in one’s life, and starting afresh for a short while.

Travel comes with memories and experiences that are to be remembered for life, providing an effective distraction from the problems back home. It acts as a stress relief, giving the traveller a period of time within which they are free from whatever is getting them down. Instead, they can focus on their surroundings and on having a good time. Granted, travel and experiences will not completely eradicate depression, it acts as more of a method of postponing it. Living in the moment, at least for me, works as a way of forgetting the problems that I am running from. A recent trip I took to Marrakech, Morocco involved riding camels, trekking through the Atlas Mountains, experiencing the souks and, most notably, trying not to get hit by mopeds and rushing taxis in the city centre. Instead of dwelling on my problems, I was instead focused on the sounds, smells and sights that Marrakech had to offer; I took in the peaceful scenery of the mountains and the Berber villages. However, possibly the most realistic anecdote I have to share is experiencing the uncomfortable saddles on the camels.

As I said before, depression or mental illness will not be completely solved by a trip to a far away country and entirely switching up your lifestyle while there. In fact, the return to reality and normality can be made harsher by this, emphasising the unhappiness and depression when directly compared with the travels that have just been wrapped up. This stark contrast is damaging, and considering many of us cannot live on the road full time and pursue the nomadic lifestyle, coming home is, unfortunately, an inevitability.

But that doesn’t mean that the memories and experiences stop there! Discussing your trip, having physical reminders and countless memories reinstate the good side of life when one is down. The doom and gloom of the regularities of life and the unhappiness attributed to this can be somewhat overcome by happy memories. I found the smallest things during my trip to Morocco were distracting me, and of course, I realised this upon reflecting on the trip, not during it. Talking or thinking about my trip always brings a smile to my face when I am down, proving that it can work as an instrument of relief to some extent.

The benefits of travelling are clear, the escapism is invaluable, especially when travel is a main passion in life, like it is for me. Travel is as beneficial as it is fun, giving us another excuse to go travelling, as if we need any more, right?

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About Author

Sam Hewitson

Travel Editor - 2019/20

Editor-In-Chief - 2020/21

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May 2022
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