Going Solo: How travelling alone can benefit your mental health
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Nowadays, our minds are often clouded by a ‘brain fog’ that can be hard to shake. We could attribute this to a tendency to overthink things in life, leading to a cascade of unwanted emotions. We’ve asked young
travellers to come forward and express their experiences with solo travel and how it influenced their mental and emotional health. Could travel be the cure that helps us switch off and return to basics?
Travelling alone tackles a lack of outward focus by presenting simple daily tasks. This focuses the mind on the present and stops us from having ‘too much’ thinking time. Crucial decisions like where to eat, sleep, and how to get from A to B, appeal to human instinct - unlike the clutter of decisions that are presented to us in day-to-day life.
The National Student's Assistant Travel Editor Caitlin told us her solo trip to Lisbon during a stressful time at University helped her feel “mentally and emotionally free." On her return, she felt “clearer and more positive" about the direction of her studies. "Travelling solo gives you the time you need to be outside of your own head. It offers real clarity," she said.
Riding solo also improves your sense of self. Making such simple decisions proves that you can solve problems, however small they may be, and reduces your reliance on others for strength and happiness.
Matthew Bowker, a psychoanalytic theorist says humans use groups as identity markers to define ourselves, which means “using others to fill out our identities, rather than relying on something internal, something that comes from within”.
Travelling enhances “the ability to know that you’re going to survive, that you’re going to be okay if you’re not supported by this group”. This proves our independence and capability to take life head on and create our own happiness. How liberating!
travelling alone and presents a fresh start to meet new people in new places. Making these connections is intrinsic to happiness by triggering oxytocin and serotonin release – also known as the ‘happy hormones’.
Solitary travel makes you more likely to reach out to new people that you meet, hence why single people have stronger social networks than those who are married. Our minor interactions that frequently go unnoticed, whether a greeting or small talk, make all the difference in promoting a sense of belonging to a larger community.
So don’t be discouraged, travelling alone is an enriching and rewarding, albeit challenging, experience which should not be missed! Get to know yourself and the world around you.
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