No one foresaw that the COVID pandemic would pave the road for another, more persistent plague: mental health. A year of quarantine has taken its toll on students, employees, and parents who have felt isolated, underworked, and severely lacking a support structure as the world turned upside down. Now that vaccines are out and global cases are trending downwards, we should be seeing a return to pre-pandemic times… right?
The gradual return to normalcy has been anything but smooth. The mental health struggles that people faced during isolation are not going away on their own as many students are saying goodbye to their college years on a Zoom webcam, employees are quitting for remote work opportunities, and personal relationships affected. The universal question on everyone’s minds for 2021 is: What now?
What we all need is a jumpstart—like rebooting a computer after a virus. We need to close our laptops, get out of our houses, and find ways to adapt to move forward. With travel restrictions easing up in most places, solo traveling is the perfect opportunity to put a physical distance between us and personal issues. Here are five ways that solo travel helps your healing.
Managing your stress
Working from home is convenient in some ways—like being able to walk to the fridge for a snack in the middle of a meeting—but oftentimes it can be a source of even more stress than in-person work. Many employees are overworking themselves to the point of exhaustion thanks to nonexistent lunch breaks, sitting at their desks for hours at a time, and taking on larger workloads than ever. Whether you will continue to work remotely or decided to return to the office, one thing is definitely needed – time to de-stress. A solo travel vacation is the perfect way to enjoy your favorite scenery without dealing with the hassle of travel companions. Traveling solo is a failsafe way to ensure that your vacation is all about you and getting your cortisol levels down.
Finding yourself post-isolation
Depersonalization during a pandemic is more common than you think. Feeling like you’re unsure of who you are after the events of the past year is the brain’s normal response to a long period – doing nothing but laptop work, house chores, and binge-watching Netflix. Traveling, specifically by solo traveling, is the best way to remember who you were before COVID turned you into a Zoom-bie, but also to recreate yourself after a year of isolation. Exploring a new destination on your own will force you to prioritize yourself and your needs again. Are you a spontaneous traveler or someone who likes to plan things out? Would you rather spend a night under the stars or under city lights? If you take the time to be alone in a totally new setting, you’ll find out more about yourself than you ever thought was possible.
Getting physical activity
Even if you’re not going on a hiking trip, solo traveling offers much more physical activity than sitting at home. Brain fog, caused by lack of exercise, was a commonly reported symptom of working from home during the pandemic. Getting off your couch, getting to the airport, catching trains and buses, and walking around a new place are all excellent ways of waking your body back up this year. The best part is that you won’t even notice you’re getting exercise because there will be so much sightseeing to keep your brain occupied.
You’ve probably seen people online starting Etsy shops, YouTube channels, or blogs during the pandemic when there was nothing else to do. And it probably made you feel like you were not doing enough with your quarantine time. The truth is, there was no rules or expectations to come up with a great business idea or piece of artwork. Isolation can be draining on anyone’s creativity. If you’re ready to finally start creating and dreaming again, then pick out a place you’ve never been to and turn it into a trip of inspiration. You’ll never know what you’ll find there that will spark your curiosity and fuel your next big idea.
Treating yourself to something nice
The pandemic was hard on everyone, with some level of anxiety, depression and already existing mental issues. You may feel like you don’t deserve a vacation right now with everything that has happened. Let me be the first or final voice to let you know that you have certainly been through enough to deserve a trip. Nearly everyone has been negatively impacted by the pandemic, some still trying to unpack their traumas. So, if you feel like you’ve done nothing remarkable to deserve those cheap plane tickets that you’ve been eyeing for weeks, think again. Surviving through a global pandemic is more than enough reason to book a solo trip and mentally recharge.
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By Sarah John & Chizoba Anyaoha
Any additional mental benefits solo traveling as give you? Share it with us @travsolo or submit your story today!