Mental Health Benefits of Travel

by Shadeau Rhodes, LCSW, CFTP | Ferren Family Counseling

When people hear about traveling it seems as though they respond with either excitement and fun or stress and anxiety. I’m sure you’ve heard both wonderful and chaotic traveling stories from friends, family, and others in your life. You probably even have your own travel stories.

Travel doesn’t have to be something big or extravagant, like a weeks-long vacation. It can be something as simple as a change of scenery for a couple of hours or a day trip to somewhere new. Taking a few hours regularly can change how we see our lives to create a more positive outlook.

While traveling can create stress and anxiety, there are strategies that can be used to decrease levels of stress when preparing for a good trip. Once you decide on your destination, start figuring out the details–where to stay, what to pack, available activities, and transportation. You can make these as detailed as you need. Some people thrive with more general information and choices while others may prefer checklists and itineraries. Do what makes you feel comfortable.

Even though traveling can be stressful, research shows that there are numerous benefits for our mental health. Overall, traveling can reduce stress and decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety. It can also give people something to look forward to and can help increase creativity and performance. Travel often gives people a way to live their lives and engage in activities that bring them happiness. It gives us a temporary break from our daily life, daily routines, and our responsibilities. We’re able to live in the moment.

Traveling also presents opportunities to reconnect with nature, learn new information about where we are (locally or elsewhere), and come into contact with others who may be from different backgrounds (race, identity, economic, faith, etc.). We learn to appreciate the world and the people who inhabit it.

If you’re in the Memphis area and looking for ways to create a staycation, I’ve provided some ideas below. Feel free to create your own Memphis-themed travel experience–there are tons of fun and relaxing local places. Experience Memphis from the eyes of a tourist!

  • Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park
  • Old Millington Winery
  • Wolf River
  • Oaklawn Garden
  • Make it a tourist day: National Civil Rights Museum, Graceland, Sun Studio, Memphis Rock N’ Soul Museum, Memphis Zoo, Dixon Gallery and Gardens, Memphis Botanic Garden, Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum, Brooks Museum of Art, Lichterman Nature Center, Memphis Museum of Science and History (Pink Palace Museum)

And if you’re looking for a short, day or weekend getaway, try these locations that are close (within a few hours) from the Memphis area. Each of these areas has a variety of activities to enjoy–ranging from nature to museums to shopping and more.

  • Hatchie National Wildlife Refuge (about an hour from Memphis)
  • Holly Springs, Mississippi (about an hour from Memphis)
  • Jackson, Tennessee (1.5 hours from Memphis)
  • Little Rock, Arkansas (2.5 hours from Memphis)
  • Heber Springs, Arkansas (2.5 hours from Memphis)
  • Hot Springs, Arkansas (3 hours from Memphis)
  • Jackson, Mississippi (3 hours from Memphis)
  • Nashville, Tennessee (3 hours from Memphis)

Though travel is often refreshing for many, symptoms of various mental health conditions may arise upon return from travel. If mental health challenges are something you face in your daily life and you need help finding a safe place to regulate and find support, Ferren Family Counseling provides client-centered therapy to help you learn, heal, and thrive. Please reach out to the office to schedule a consultation or appointment if you think it may assist with helping you find connection, relationship, and meet your mental health needs.