Travel is incredible. There’s no doubt about that. The constant sense of adventure, of exploring new locales, and engaging with different cultures is a thrill that nothing else can provide.
However, with all this excitement comes a bit of a downside. Some people are prone to developing mental health issues while they travel, or are at least likely to exacerbate conditions that they already have.
Unfortunately, there are some things that travel can’t provide reliably. While you’re circumventing the globe having the experience of a lifetime, it can be difficult to secure a serious long-term counselor or therapist to help you manage your mental health. In this article we’re going to discuss the mental health impact of travel and what you can do about it.
Traveling constantly puts you into new situations, engages you with new people, and shows you new places. Essentially, you’re always out of your comfort zone – and for most people, this can generate a significant deal of anxiety. Yes, travel anxiety is a real thing.
It can be difficult to cope with anxiety while you’re traveling, especially if you’re with a partner. This can lead to higher-than-average levels of drinking or using prescription medication. In the short-term, this can be fine, but long-term travelers should be wary of this.
Unaddressed anxiety can lead to stress, and if stress is not dealt with over the long-term it can lead to the emergence of physical health problems and disease.
Fortunately, if you’re traveling at a slower pace, stress can be managed relatively easy by having daily meditation or yoga sessions and taking time to yourself. Business travelers should be careful to observe their stress levels.
There are a huge number of emotional issues that can arise from traveling. Two of the most common are problems emerging from being separated from people or problems from being stuck together with people.
- Many travelers experience loneliness, separation anxiety, sadness, and homesickness as a result of being so far away from their family and friends for extended periods. Having a relationship while constantly traveling is basically impossible.
- If you’re traveling with a partner or a friend, be prepared to know them at a level that you’ve never known them before. Traveling together with an individual or being in close quarters with, say, a fellow couch surfer or host, can lead to irritation, issues with boundaries and respect, anxiety and emotional discomfort.
Many people can also develop emotional problems from culture shock, the separation experienced when one has to deal with a language barrier, and the constant exposure to unfamiliar settings.
What Can We Do?
Previously, only people who preferred to hunker down in a town or city for a while would have been able to schedule appointments with mental health professionals – and only if they were traveling in an area where their language was spoken, which is certainly not commonplace for world travelers.
Fortunately, nowadays, travelers can access e-counseling – a form of online counseling that can be used anywhere that there’s an internet connection – to keep their mental health in check. There are many reputable e-counseling services available that are just a click away.