In 2020 the travel industry came to a screaming halt, we were all put on hold. The first few months did not seem to affect us but after a while we started to notice we were struggling with the side effects of not being able to travel. We asked our friend Sherlonda Adkins, PA-C, MPAS, MPA to share her thoughts on this issue and what we can do about it. Here is what Sherlonda had to say:
Why Do We Have To Travel?
According to the “State of American Vacation 2018” study conducted by the U.S. Travel Association, 52% of employees reported having unused vacation days left over at the end of the year. Wait, what?!?! Why? For some people it could be the overwhelming thought of the work that will pile up while they are away or perhaps the guilt of leaving their co-workers in a bind. For others it could be inadequate vacation planning skills. Whatever the reason is, if we start considering the major contribution that travel can make to a person’s mental health this percentage would likely decrease significantly.
The Science Of Travel
Sooo, besides being “fun” what are some of the positive effects that travel can have on your brain?
1. Utilizes both sides of the brain – Mixing and matching dates, deals, and destinations require logic and attention to detail (hello left brain)! Travel also sparks creativity when doing things such as building lively itineraries or immersing yourself in a different culture (team right brain)!
2. Creates a source of excitement – Having something to look forward to can provide motivation to keep pushing through the weeks of the mundane daily routines. In psychiatry, dopamine is thought of as the “feel good” chemical that your brain produces in response to engaging in pleasurable activities. Travel can increase dopamine levels which can be very helpful during times when regular life seems to be on autopilot.
3. Reduces anxiety – Often people get so caught up in stressors such as relationships,work, school, finances, social issues, or health challenges that it literally takes rising above the clouds and looking at life from a bird’s-eye view to hit that reset button. A high level of stress for an extended period of time can lead to medical treatment to help regulate neurotransmitters such as GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid) in order to calm the brain. Taking a trip, even just for a few days, can provide a temporary break from stressors which can lower anxiety levels naturally.
Travel and Mental Health
Now if we can only advocate this to the insurance companies and have travel expenses covered by Health Savings Accounts! You can find out more about this and more subjects in this arena by visiting Sherlonda on PsychMyWay on Facebook and Instagram.
Sherlonda Adkins is a Nationally Board Certified Physician Assistant specializing in psychiatry and owner of PsychMyway, a South Carolina based telepsychiatry practice. Sherlonda addresses the physical, mental, and emotional health of her patients by utilizing her medical knowledge of mental health disorders, her passion, and natural ability to help people successfully navigate life. Sherlonda is married and has three children. Her hobbies include listening to music, amateur photography, and travel (19 countries…and counting)!