Renate Engelbrecht
Content producer
4 minute read
25 Jun 2021
12:43 pm

Why local travel is good for your mental health

Renate Engelbrecht

There are many benefits to local travel; one of them being that it can help you to maintain and strengthen your mental health.

Travel is good for your heart and head.

There are many benefits to local travel; one being that it can help you maintain and strengthen your mental health.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), mental health is an integral part of physical health. In fact, the organisation makes a rather bold statement by saying there is no health without mental health.

It also says mental health is fundamental to our collective and individual ability as human beings to think, portray emotion, interact with each other, earn a living and enjoy life. This should be reason enough to make mental health (and travel) a top priority.

Local travel is the responsible thing to do
If you’re prone to guilt-tripping easily, consider rather travelling local. After all, present circumstances don’t allow for much else any way. Travelling abroad is not very eco-friendly and when you travel locally and close to home, you support the local economy and service providers.

Travel makes returning home priceless
It might feel good to get out of the house for once, but it’s often returning home that proves to be magical. So, travel locally and get out just to come back if that means you get a new, positive perspective on life.

Travel reduces stress
Travelling takes you out of your daily routine and allows your mind, body and soul to reset in new surroundings, with new experiences. Even planning your itinerary for a local trip has a positive effect on your morale.

Travelling improves fitness
Exercise goes hand in hand with mental health. When you travel, you’re automatically more active than when you’re sitting in an office chair eight (or more) hours a day. Hiking and skiing in scenic areas have also been documented to be helpful in becoming more hopeful. Travelling locally, you’ll be able to explore the many scenic places South Africa has to offer.

Local travel and hiking in scenic places helps with hopefulness

Hiking in scenic places helps you to become more hopeful.

Travel reduces the risk of heart disease
The well-known Framingham Heart Study published in 1992, found that women who took very few vacations (less than one every six years) were twice as likely to have a heart attack or a coronary death than women who had a couple of breaks each year.

Another study found that men who took fewer vacations were much more likely to die from coronary heart disease than men who went on holiday more often. Local travel might also be less stressful, as it doesn’t come with connecting flights and passports.

Travel lowers the risk of depression
A study by the Marshfield Clinic in Wisconsin found that women who go on holiday twice a year are less prone to chronic stress and depression. Swedish experts also delved into the consumption of antidepressants a couple of years ago and found that fewer antidepressants were dispensed during the times when people were on holiday.

Travel expands your mind
South Africa with its variety of cultures will afford you the opportunity to expand your mind by meeting new people and adapting to new situations. This has a way of keeping the mind sharp, increasing creativity and encouraging personal growth.

Also, it’s a well-known fact that many “aha” moments have happened in a relaxed state of mind, which is exactly where a couple of days in the Drakensberg come into play.

Travel increases mindfulness
According to Richard Davidson, professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the founder of the Center of Healthy Minds, breaking your normal routine is a good thing. He says less familiarity is an opportunity to be more fully present. Mindfulness also has a way of reducing stress and increasing compassion, resilience and happiness.

Wellness trips and local travel strengthen mental health

Local wellness trips can improve your mental health.

Wellness trips can strengthen mental health
Local travel in the form of a wellness retreat focused on practices like yoga and meditation could teach you skills to bring home to help you with your general day to day wellness routine, which is key to maintaining mental health.

RELATED: South Africa’s Top Wellness-Inspired Destinations

Travel improves sleeping patterns
We’ve all been there. A lack of sleep has a negative effect on an individual’s mood. It drains your mental abilities and even puts your physical health at risk. Combine that with stress and it’s a mess.

An adult should sleep at least seven to seven-and-a-half hours a night and a local trip might be one of the few ways in which you can actually achieve that. Between a good night’s rest beneath the lowveld’s starry skies and an afternoon nap in the shade of an acacia, you’re bound to make up those lost hours.

Local travel might not always sound as glamorous and romantic as a trip overseas, but it is certainly as rewarding, if not more.