Travel Therapy: A Really Effective Treatment?

To soothe the minds of the most anxious prices specialists the benefits of art therapy, music therapy and now “travel therapy”. But can this activity really be an effective treatment for our mental health? Response elements.

Why do we go on holiday? Is it to escape a boring everyday life, to get away from reality, to clear your mind, or simply to do as the others? According to Australian researchers, travel can be a real therapy for maintaining mental health. But in other cases, they can cause stress and anxiety.

Treat depression, anxiety and dementia

As the global pandemic has had a major impact on tourism, a new one study conducted by researchers from Edith Cowan University (ECU) suggests considering traveling as a recreational experience, but above all as a future treatment to cure pathologies related to mental health. The study established a link between tourism experiences and therapeutic interventions.

To reach these conclusions, a team of tourism, marketing and public health experts analyzed the impact of travel on people with dementia.

They found that vacations could have a positive impact, especially through cognitive stimulation, on people suffering from depression, anxiety or mental disorders.

“Medical experts can recommend dementia treatments such as music therapy, exercise, cognitive stimulation, reminiscence therapy, sensory stimulation, and adaptations to a patient’s meals and environment,” Dr. Jun Wen, lead researcher of the study. And all these benefits can be observed during the holidays.

Also, being in a different environment and living new experiences could provide more than noticeable cognitive and sensory stimulation for people in psychological vulnerability. To travel is also about letting go, experiencing new adventures and cultivating an open mind.

Travel: a source of stress?

While some people dream of vacations, others have their worst nightmares. Besides Fear of flying (or aerodromophobia), a common phobia that can lead to an imminent anxiety attack, travel is sometimes synonymous with stress for certain population groups.

Because the height of stressed people who need a vacation is that they worry too much about embarking on such projects. Sofia, 30, hates to travel. “I prefer to cancel trips that may benefit me, for fear of falling behind in my work or losing control of my daily activities,” she confides in us. “In addition, you need to find free time to organize a trip, ask my boss to give me days off and wait for him to finally validate them. All of these elements can become anxious and cause the opposite effect of what is expected.

Because you also have to plan the stay. And for procrastinators, it’s not easy. Thinking about accommodation, airline tickets, setting up an organization during their absence are all factors that can cause stress and anxiety.

People who suffer from pathologies such as heart problems, for example, may also be prevented from traveling as they fear that their health problems will reappear when they are miles from home. “What if something happened to me?” “.

A positive impact on physical health

According to the Australian study, holidays actually contribute to the cognitive stimulation of travelers, but they also improve their state of health.

Because they often involve increased physical activity, primarily walking and running, travel can combat a sedentary lifestyle, Dr. Wen. In addition to doing good to morale, sports can prevent many diseases.

In addition, “mealtimes are often different during the holidays: they are generally more sociable times shared with more people,” says the researcher, who found that family meals could have a positive impact on the eating behavior of patients with dementia. Finally, people who go on vacation in the sun or enjoy the fresh air, see their levels of vitamin D and serotonin, also called the happiness hormone, increase.

Have a different view of travel

In addition to economic factors, the health crisis has affected tourism as it “improves physical and mental well-being”, lamented Dr. Wen. After more than two years of health crisis, “it is the right time to identify the place of tourism in public health – and not just for healthy tourists, but for vulnerable people”, says the researcher.

According to him, travel must not only be recreational but also has its role to play in modern society. That is why further research by Australian researchers is planned to prove that travel can replace “medical interventions to treat various diseases such as dementia or depression”.

Finally, whether we are looking for excitement, lack of fullness, or a calmer environment to cut ourselves off from routine, travel can be a therapy for some or even a need for others.

As a new way of healing, traveling around the world will above all allow you to explore your inner self. For your suitcases!

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