5 Ways Travel is Good for Your Mental Health

5 Ways Travel is Good for Your Mental Health

It is common for many people to easily get burned out considering how fast-paced life has become. You add to this the responsibilities that need to be attended to, other’s expectations of you, and your personal hopes for yourself and you will surely be overwhelmed.

The stress of dealing with so many things with a seemingly limited period often times push people to the edge. Others who were so emotionally and psychologically strained ended up taking their lives. This is why taking a break and traveling is highly recommended.

Temporarily pulling yourself out of your usual schedule and going to other places pose many benefits. Here are the 5 ways why traveling will do wonders for you.

It is a Means of Rediscovering Oneself

Do you wonder how your life has become so predictable and boring? Do you feel like there is nothing to be excited about in your life? Has the situation become so hopeless? If you answered in the positive to these questions, then something needs to be addressed soon. A way to do that is by traveling.

Going to another place will help you rediscover who you are. Many testified about how they have found their passions during a trip. Traveling widens your horizons in ways you cannot imagine. Getting acquainted with the different cultures and various customs broadens your perspective on so many things.

It Increases Happiness Level

Stepping away from your daily grind is a way of rewiring your brain. This will help boost self-confidence and mood. Living new experiences allows individuals to lay low and shed off the feeling of being trapped in their problems and responsibilities.

Being able to visit places gives a sense of liberation that is exhilarating. This does not only happen during the trip. The thrill starts with the planning and all the way until a few weeks after the travel when one reminisces about the experience.

It Increases Creativity and Improves Productivity

There is so much inspiration in the places you visit. Being able to immerse yourself in how people do things in their own unique way tickles certain brain functions that enhance imagination.

Also, being able to travel offers a chance for people to improve their productivity. As traveling offers the opportunity to sleep, relax and let loose, these have a positive effect on the cognitive processes.

It Makes You Flexible

Going on trips is not just about the excitement of planning and looking forward to doing something new. It is also about being flexible and resilient to whatever comes your way. Not everything about how you envisioned about the travel will happen exactly as how you want things to be. There will be instances when you have to come up with another plan to be responsive to the situation.

Having to face adversities in an unfamiliar territory lets you think outside of the box and to give up control on the things you can do nothing about. It teaches patience and to deal with bigger and more important issues than the seemingly menial ones you would normally fuss over.

It Combats Stress

Overall, traveling combats stress. Going to work and dealing with all the responsibilities tend to distract people from appreciating things that really matter and worry about even the smallest things. So, taking a break from all the hustle and bustle is necessary for you to just relax, rejuvenate and recharge.

Being away from anxiety-causing situations lower your cortisol levels. This will make you more content, calm, and at peace. Just imagine the same kind of zen that dual diagnosis treatment centers offer.

This is even backed by a study showing a significant drop in stress levels a mere two days after going on a trip.

So, are you ready to pack your bags now?

Author Bio: Patrick Bailey is a professional writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the addiction and the mental health world and enjoy writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them.

Learning How to Fly, Not Just Wobble: A Path of Uncertainty

Learning How to Fly, Not Just Wobble: A Path of Uncertainty

Living Life My Way

The biggest challenge in my life has been trying to figure out how to live it my way – and it’s all mostly a mental game. I’m starting to get on top of certain things, but all I’m getting on top of is understanding my weaknesses (a huge advantage because it gives perspective) and I’m starting to see others’ weaknesses as well. We all want to be somebody or feel important and most of us spend our entire lives following the herd in every single way possible.

I also think we forget how to live our life with passion – because let’s be honest life can get really damn boring always trying to live up to some expectation or do some kind of path that people tell you you’re supposed to be on.

I’ve spent YEARS just trying to figure out how to get that passion back, and it hasn’t been easy because for one there’s a lot of noise you have to sift through to really get to your core feelings. Secondly I had the realization that I wasn’t doing my due part even if mentally I was trying to figure it out – I wasn’t working hard enough or actually taking the action necessary to live up to what I knew was my potential. 

It also hasn’t been easy because I’m not busy doing things other people are doing – I’m not on any regular path. I’m not changing jobs or going back to school to further challenge myself and many times I felt a sort of pressure to do that, just to relieve this feeling of “WTF am I doing?”.

But I realized that while I would benefit from those things, they’d also further distract me from that main thing I’ve been trying to do: learning how to carve out my own position in life first with the tools I have now and even believing that it’s possible  and learning from the journey of THAT.

I actually have great work ethic, I just didn’t know how or where to start, and so I’d often get stuck in the same rut of trying to strategize my future and not acting. I didn’t realize that it can’t always be about planning the course, like I’ve done the rest of my life with planning jobs, planning education, and so on. This path is primarily in the moment. It happens by paving it with action.

It’s difficult because it’s such a “murky” and unclear place to be. With the clear path school or climbing the corporate ladder gives you for example, it allows you to see the reward during it and at the end, for the most part. You may just not know how small or how big the reward will be at the end, but you see with certainty that it’s going somewhere. With this path, there will be a reward at the end too (all life experiences give rewards), but it’s really difficult or impossible at this point in time to really see where it’s leading.

There have been one million thought patterns and directions I could go in and interests I have, and it’s literally taken years to figure out that I think I finally understand how to execute and not just how to think.

I’m keeping this somewhat abstract because this feeling can apply to a lot of situations in life where we feel alone or are treading our own path despite pressure to do otherwise.

If you’re experiencing something similar or have in the past, hang in there ’cause you’re not alone, and don’t forget to work your butt off because if all else fails at least you will have really learned something.

What I Would Tell My 17 year-old Self if I could

What I Would Tell My 17 year-old Self if I could

I’ve often looked back at my past and thought about what I could do differently if I knew then what I know now, and have actually lived out what consequences our actions had. I think most of us do, and I’ll probably continue to do that forever.

Earlier today I was thinking about what I could tell my 17 year-old self (I’m now 32), or at least my self near that age, and I realized that part of the purpose of being at any point in our lives is to live out the journey of that moment, from the good parts to the mistakes and everything in between.

The 16-17-18 ages are hard, because we’re right smack in the middle of a transition period from being a child to developing into an independent adult. There are really a lot of struggles during this time that we may not even see as struggles, until we’re in our 30s like me and see the difference between then and now.

That being said, we are all here on Earth to live our own lessons and nothing can change that. But there are still some straight up practical things I wish I would have done differently. Every person’s journey is different, and so these things are very personal to me. But, I figured some people still may be able to relate.

  1. It’s funny that this is #1, but…brush and floss your damn teeth. Every day.
    I’m really passionate about this one. BECAUSE if I had not been so lazy with my flossing and brushing, I could have maybe avoided THOUSANDS of dollars and multiple instances of the most excruciating pain of my life. Though this advice is for any age, of course, because eventually it will catch up to you if you don’t take care of it.
  2. DO NOT take antibiotics or strong drugs for your acne (unless you have cystic acne). Avoid drugs period, unless necessary.
    I know it really sucks to have bad skin when you’re a teenager. I did, and I took Minocycline for a long time (at least it wasn’t Accutane). However, antibiotics or drugs like Accutane are very harsh on your body in ways we don’t understand at the time – or understand in general. But at that age we are more resilient and/or don’t really care. The trade-off for the effect these drugs can have on your body for clear skin is just not worth it unless absolutely necessary. Especially knowing now what I know about skin care, I know plenty of other things I would try first (good essential oils for one) before resorting to drugs. The difference is, back then I didn’t really care about my body. Now, I do, because when you’re older you cannot get away with the kind of abuse you give it when you’re younger. And just because you might get away with it doesn’t mean you should. I’ve taken antibiotics that screwed my digestive system up (which can cause a whole host of other problems), and there’s a lot we still don’t really understand regarding the effects of certain drugs and certainly about the gut.
  3. I’d show myself much more love and compassion.
    Every phase of our lives has its own challenges, but trying to figure out life as a teenager (and with all those hormones involved) really isn’t easy. God, high school isn’t easy. For me it was pretty bad. And there’s so much competition, negativity, and petty crap you have to deal with. If you are of high school age and are reading this, take some time to appreciate yourself and all you are going through, because it is significant and we place so much unnecessary pressure and expectations on ourselves during this phase of our lives.
  4. I’d tell myself that my life doesn’t have to be figured out. And I don’t have to do what other people are doing.
    You don’t have to go to college right away. The world does not have to be lived out the way you see everyone else living it. You don’t have to value what they value. You don’t have to figure out what you want to study. You don’t have to see a certain age as a marker for some sort of milestone you’re supposed to be achieving. Live your own world, even when the outside world might not take you seriously. Trust yourself. Which leads me to the next one…
  5. Listening to adults’ advice is good, but we also have to learn to listen to and trust ourselves
    As a teenager, there is an emphasis that we are not wise and don’t know what’s best for ourselves. There certainly can be an element of truth to that, but it also teaches us not to listen to our own inner voice. At age 17 I was always getting advice from adults, or random comments about what I should or shouldn’t be doing. And many times I wasn’t taken seriously in general because of my age. There ARE some teenagers that have no good judgment at all and are always getting themselves in trouble (let’s be real, this isn’t restricted to young people). But for the average person, myself included  not trusting myself was detrimental. I actually didn’t see it at the time, but back then I didn’t value my own opinion that much because at that age there is such heavy influences from others around us, from our parents, from the schooling system, etc., that we are supposed to be following a specific path. There was also a heavy emphasis on needing to stay in school, to get good grades, to be able to go to a good college, and to make good money. While this is a straightforward way to go, it’s not the only way. Life does not have to consist of a linear path defined by someone or something else.You know what will get you a good job? Following your heart. Learning what makes you excited. Going after what you’re naturally curious about. Thinking about what you want to offer the world and what you want to become good at, and doing that, period. Then you will develop the necessary skills in whatever that is, and be able to make money.

    Yes it can be more straightforward to finish high school the way most people do and get the diploma out of the way because you will need to make money later on and a diploma is a minimum requirement for most jobs. But do you HAVE to do it that way? No. Sorry, but you don’t. Especially when high school is producing a toxic environment for you and not actually helping you grow (might be likely if it’s public school). Especially when you already know what you love and want to do and have other means of learning it, and can maybe get your GED later. Especially when you aren’t just dropping out of high school so you can sit around and smoke weed all day, but because you actually want to do something more fulfilling with your life, or something that will have more of a positive impact in some way.

    When applying for jobs, most don’t pay a crazy amount of attention on your high school experience. They look at your current job experience and skills. Not everyone does well sitting in a class 6-8 hours a day and listening to people talk. Some people learn differently. I know a couple of people who dropped out of high school and taught themselves programming and now are doing fantastically well.

    That being said, I’m not encouraging dropping out of high school. It’s just that people assume that if you don’t follow the path that is laid out for you, that you’re a loser. Or that you won’t succeed in life. And it is just not true. Thinking that way is detrimental. There’s so much fear behind that, especially for parents, so I get it. But this is the thing: most people want to stay alive and live the best life they can. That notion does not have to be taught. And you do not have to simply follow what everyone else is doing to achieve that. You don’t have to be older to realize that you can be more creative and follow what you feel inside. You just have more obstacles in trying to do this when you’re younger.

    Most parents or other adults are often naggy because they are worried and because they care  they don’t want you to make the same mistakes they did (even though they might not directly say this). The world is a dangerous place, especially for teenagers, because they are often at the age where they want to experience new things but are reckless at the same time since they have not yet lived long enough to actually experience the consequences of certain actions, and older adults have. Older adults have made mistakes, too, and would prefer not to see you walk their same path because they might have some regrets. As humans, we are exceptionally flawed.

  6. That whole love story you got goin’ on…take it seriously, but if it doesn’t work out, try to remember that everything happen for a good reason and things work out for the best in the end.
    I fell deeply in love with someone when I was 14. NOBODY took that seriously either. Guess what. I am 32 and no I am not with them, but I still love and appreciate this person. Now, I’m probably not the best example because the depth of the feelings I had for this person was probably unusual for my age. Most younger relationships don’t last long and do have less depth. But in my case, the time this person and I started to drift apart was THE worst heartbreak I have ever experienced to date. It took me several years to fully get over it.
    It also took me years to understand that things happen for a reason. The reason why younger relationships often don’t last is not always because they are just “puppy love” and insignificant, but because as we get older, our values change. What we look for in a person is continually being refined. Simple things like how we live our lives and how we perceive ourselves end up being a really significant factor in the kinds of partners that end up being compatible with us. As we age, we go through different “versions” of ourselves as we learn to discover who we really are. Once we’re older, our identities have been further established and this makes it much easier to find a partner that truly fits with this current version of ourselves. When we’re younger, there’s still so much up in the air that can change, so the person we are compatible with then may not be ten years later, despite how strong our feelings are.

If I could sum up all of this nicely, I would say it’s really about believing in yourself and your potential more and treat your body better because it will pay off. Learn to realize there is an important balance that ideally needs to happen at this age. The balance between having guidance from the older and wiser, and from the necessity of listening to ourselves and learning from our own mistakes.

Tips on Handling Our Emotions: The Gateway to Ourselves

Tips on Handling Our Emotions: The Gateway to Ourselves

Let’s be honest: On average, the way we as human beings have learned to handle our emotions is very often a mess. We all have a myriad of emotions we might experience throughout just one day, and we are so used to our own emotions that we may not really think to look at them, or we might sometimes have a certain way of always dealing with them (that may or may not be healthy).

Some people may express one emotion more strongly in order to cover up the other, some people may hide them entirely, some people may have them but are in denial themselves over what they are feeling.

On top of that, the way we grow up may condition us to judge ourselves over what we are feeling, causing us to feel alienated from others.

Males are often taught to handle their emotions differently than women (part of which led to the idea that women are more emotional than men, but through all my life experience to date I can say with confidence this is not true). They are just often expressed and handled differently, and men and women sometimes place importance on different things.

Emotion is a touchy, emotional subject in itself. But the truth is, emotions are also a gateway.

The way that we handle and express our emotions can give us clues about our true feelings on many things, even if intellectually we may not admit it.

Through all my meditation  i.e. exploration of the self  and from ten or so years of being on the antidepressant Prozac, I’ve learned that recognizing and properly handling our emotions is an incredibly important step towards enhanced self-awareness that cannot be overlooked.

Prozac really muted my emotions, and while most people would think that is a blessing (and in some cases where people tend to overreact or over-stress, it might be), it actually at times led to confusion about how I really felt about things. It literally cut me off from myself in this way, and it was coming off of Prozac that made me really see the difference.

Our emotions can be the thing that tells us exactly what’s in our hearts, even if we don’t want to listen. They might in fact be the only thing that shows us our most fulfilling path in life, if we are willing to put our guard down, embrace them, and experience life with an open heart.

They may give us hints towards things we hadn’t yet intellectually considered, and if we analyze them a bit, we might realize there is a long chain of cause and effect that end up making us feel a certain way. Something that might lead far back to our past that was a traumatizing event and is now dominating our lives majorly, yet we may not have even noticed.

Pay Attention!

Even if we think the way we are experiencing emotions is completely fine and there’s nothing wrong, just paying more attention to them and learning to embrace them fully can release us in ways we may not have even imagined. It means we are actually willing to become more in touch with ourselves.

Accepting our emotions might also allow us to slowly let go of layers of emotional baggage so that we can be freer than ever before, because true freedom starts in the mind.

Some Tips on More Effectively Handling Our Emotions

  1. The most important thing: Pay Attention. That’s it. Buddhists have talked about attention as their greatest advantage when breaking the chains of the mind. It’s true. If we don’t watch over our own minds (and our emotions), we will be controlled by them. Take some time to really understand why you’re feeling what you do.
  2. Understand the intelligence and awareness that lies in vulnerability. In other words, don’t be afraid to be real with yourself, even if it breaks your pride a little bit. The things in life that break our pride are what shows us where we can improve, or might show us the true nature of things, even if it feels crappy. This is easier said than done, though, and I realize that. I don’t like having my ego deflated, either. But it sure has awoken me many-a-time to reality.
  3. Don’t judge yourself based on what you should or shouldn’t be feeling. Many people do this subconsciously and tuck their feelings away.
  4. Learn to express them fully, without question, then let them go. Go deep into your emotions and explore them. Live them out fully. When doing so, they will live out their life and then release. It is only by resisting and suppressing them that they might stay alive forever.

“You don’t need to control emotion,” he said. “Emotions are natural, like passing weather. Sometimes it’s fear, sometimes sorrow or anger. Emotions are not the problem. The key is to transform the energy of emotion into constructive action.”
― Dan Millman, Way of the Peaceful Warrior

Emotions are the next frontier to be understood and conquered. To manage our emotions is not to drug them or suppress them, but to understand them so that we can intelligently direct our emotional energies and intentions…. It’s time for human beings to grow up emotionally, to mature into emotionally managed and responsible citizens. No magic pill will do it.”
― Doc Childre

7 Things You Can Do to Feel Alive Again

7 Things You Can Do to Feel Alive Again

I have found that many of the systems and paths that we have carved out for us in life, or that we follow, can improve our skills but may sometimes dull our creativity or even cover up things in life that we feel truly passionate about.

We may learn that following a path and acquiring achievements and recognition from doing so is the kind of happiness that we think we need. We forget what it feels like to be truly ignited by something, or we sacrifice pursuing that as we consider it less important.

However, I don’t think there’s anything more important.

Sure, we have to make a living and that requires us to make sacrifices sometimes. But, we still are in charge of getting our priorities straight and creating a life for ourselves that may be the “road less traveled by” but allows us to be our best selves and give to the world and ourselves all of our potential.

And, this kind of awareness helps us to truly appreciate life and what we are here for. It brings us out of the mud and makes us feel alive again.

Adulthood doesn’t have to be dull, systematic, and dominated only by to-dos.

There should be an undertone of joy, even amidst all the ups and downs.

Learning How to Appreciate

In thinking about what “becoming alive again” REALLY means, I realized it boils down to one primary attribute: appreciation. You have to learn to appreciate what’s in front of you. Being grateful is talked about a lot these days. However, it’s not just a matter of turning on your “grateful” switch. It’s often not simply just an intellectual process.

It’s very much an awareness that unfolds with really seeing and understanding what comes together in our lives to make us healthy and happy. In other words, it might take some work.

For example, once I tuned in enough to my body to see how good it feels when I eat food with wholesome ingredients (not processed, no added sugar), that represented a very real kind of awareness that made me appreciate healthy food that is doing good for my body.

At the bottom of all of this is us. We have to learn to get in tune with our selves and the rest will follow.

Here are seven things I thought of that can help uncover that feeling of becoming alive again (note, most of these need to be done regularly and require effort and patience. But if done, they will make a huge difference in your life.):

  1. Appreciate your food. Take a moment to think about where your food came from, be thankful that you have it, and chew slowly. Try to observe, and enjoy the process of eating. This took me a long time to do. But I noticed that I started naturally doing it in my times of highest awareness and clarity – like after spending time in nature.
  2. Observe the cause and effect of all situations in your life. Take a look at what happened to lead you where you are today. If you are happy in your current situation in all regards, that’s great. If not, observe the circumstances that took place to lead you where you are today, and where you might be able to make changes to an entirely different path that will lead you to entirely different place.
  3. Watch your mind. This one is the biggest one and I could write a book about it (and many have). But, your mind is the tool with which you create your perceptions and shape your life. Do not hold on to negative thoughts. We all get them, but practice letting them go. Observe and see how your perspectives might be telling you what you can or can’t do, or how life should or should not be. You don’t have to do anything here, but learn to watch.
  4. Experience more. Try new things. Things that might connect you with others, or show you something about yourself. It could be as small as trying a new food you were hesitant to try. Dare to go outside your comfort zone. You’re not getting anything from being in it.
  5. Start paying attention to gut reactions. Learn to say no. I always considered myself a pretty in-tune person, but I realized that just by habit I was often dismissing my own feelings on things. It can actually be a difficult process to differentiate between “this feels like something I should do, not that I’m excited to do,” if we’re always used to putting away our own feelings.
  6. Evaluate your life goals. What kind of goals are you setting, and why? What are you looking to achieve, and why? Is it something that you feel will make you more fulfilled on a deep level, or is it something that you think you should be doing to get ahead? I remember thinking years ago that I just wanted to hit a $50k income goal and that that’s all the money I would need in life ever. Now that I’ve hit that income goal and grown a little wiser, I’ve realized it is so not about the money. We all need it and more is better, but I realized that thinking in terms of money was getting in the way of me focusing on creating a life that fulfilled me, regardless of the income. It is kind of a trick; you have to reverse engineer this thinking. You have to go after what you enjoy doing the most and focus on your talents, and not worry about if it will make you enough money or not. Things will then fall into place.
  7. Set aside time for things in your life on a regular basis. Before bed, I made a sort of routine to light candles, turn off all electronics, read a book and drink tea. This has given me a happiness I didn’t have before. It allows my body to relax and contemplate the day. I’ve realized that constantly being distracted by electronics can create a stress response and not allow us to truly relax, even though you may not realize it at first.
Aligning Ourselves with the Only Constant: Change

Aligning Ourselves with the Only Constant: Change

When I was younger and a good thing happened in my life, I was always full of wishes for it to last forever. I’d say to myself “please PLEASE let me have this person in my life forever!!!” or what have you I’d plead and beg to myself that things wouldn’t change and that it was something I could keep, in its exact state, as it was in that moment. I’m sure most of those of you reading this can relate.

It’s like that first love you had that was unlike anything you had ever experienced and allowed you to experience a whole new range of emotions and maybe made you feel a little more grown up, like you could say you finally knew what this “love” thing was all about.

It might’ve helped you form your identity by having this new experience with another human being and made you feel more important, because you were getting extra validation of your actions and your existence with this close relationship, and through each other you begin to meet new people who see you not just as an individual but a unit.

But as I have gotten older, the passage of time has told me the necessity of change. However, it has also shown me how resistant some of us still are to it. Even as we age, most of us have a plethora of external circumstances that continue to validate our actions. We learn to look to external sources be it people, structures and systems such as school, accomplishments, careers, and what have you as tools to measure our existence by.

It’s hard to ignore, because it happens by habit and by growing up in a society with structured systems that each of us plays a part in. Everything becomes a matter of relativity to something else; we’re making less money than someone else, we’re a different color than someone else, we didn’t accomplish a certain number of degrees compared to someone else, and thus the list goes on forever…and in even more subtler ways we might not immediately recognize.

We might be in and out of relationships that put us in different life situations where we have varying social statuses or introduce us to situations that are new and we discover new dimensions to add to what we understand as our identity.

Sometimes we notice how other people (or groups of people) react to us as a person and use that to understand ourselves or our placement in this world. Our identity really ends up becoming the sum of comparisons against something else, or a sum of the reflection of others’ opinions. And sometimes, we forget to learn how to look beyond all of it to reveal the source.

It might sound in words more simple than it is, but it is really complex, because from the time we were born, we have been introduced to life on earth and society as it is in this current state. We learn to understand ourselves only in the context of the current state of our world. If we don’t naturally explore other ideas frequently in our minds, learning to uncover our core can be a major undertaking.

These days, I use meditation and frequent contemplation to discover what deeply rooted perceptions I might have that were built from the time I was a kid or during days where I didn’t know better. I try to observe my day-to-day emotions and actions and see where they might be stemming from, or what is provoking them.

In my opinion, there is nothing more valuable than the evolution of the self. Relationships of all kinds, achievements and the like are important, but if they are becoming a hindrance to your potential, this is likely an issue or will become one. Healthy relationships and circumstances should be helping you to propel you forward, or should at least be supportive as you reach new heights in your understanding of your self.

And without change, we would suffer. We’d never grow, be pushed out of our comfort zone, and come to understand the world in new ways. We’d never reach new heights of happiness or release the chains of our mind that might be holding us back.

If change comes knocking at your door, open it with welcome arms and remind yourself that it might be the opportunity of a lifetime, even if it’s disguised behind a veil.

“I do not accept any absolute formulas for living. No preconceived code can see ahead to everything that can happen in a person’s life. As we live, we grow and our beliefs change. They must change. So I think we should live with this constant discovery. We should be open to this adventure in heightened awareness of living. We should stake our whole existence on our willingness to explore and experience.”
Martin Buber

Skip to content
This Website is committed to ensuring digital accessibility for people with disabilitiesWe are continually improving the user experience for everyone, and applying the relevant accessibility standards.
Conformance status