Overcoming Depression and Anxiety in the Winter Through Travel

For many, the changing of seasons can be a wonderful time of the year. Temperatures shift, foliage changes color, and different activities become within reach. Depending on where you live, you might even be lucky enough to experience all that mother nature has to offer!

However, not everyone greets these seasonal changes with the same sense of enthusiasm. Normally optimistic mentalities can be overshadowed by depressive episodes, while feelings of sluggishness and fatigue may prevent you from maintaining your normally cheery personality. But why do we feel this way, and what are some of the cures for seasonal depression?

Overcoming Depression and Anxiety in Creative Ways

Anxiety and depression due to seasonal transitions is real. In fact, 10 million Americans suffer from what’s known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD) each year. The seasonal affective disorder statistics are alarming, and I don’t doubt if the actual numbers are higher. To be honest, I’m one of the many people that have experienced this uncomfortable mental state at some point or another. Is it a fun feeling? Absolutely not. Can you find ways to help yourself cope? I did.

We travel for pleasure, romance, family gatherings, and work obligations. Why not travel for depression too? Remove yourself from your triggers, expand your horizons, and discover hidden parts of yourself. It’s important to note that this is in no way medical advice or a replacement for traditional treatment methods if needed. Rather, this is what has worked for me to get out of that seasonal funk.

Get Out of That Paralyzing Rut

The symptoms of seasonal depression can vary greatly from person to person. However, one of the most common indicators of depression is social isolation. Feeling out of sorts, helpless, and irritable can cause even the best of us to withdraw from our closest family and friends. Get onboard with depression travel!

Traveling, even solo traveling, doesn’t allow for isolation! Whether you’re skiing in the Swiss Alps, or wandering the quaint Christmas markets in Europe, retreating from the world is virtually impossible! Airports are constantly buzzing with travelers, hotels are occupied with guests excited to explore their new surroundings, and historical landmarks or attractions are bursting with those looking to admire how far we’ve come while taking in the beautiful sights. In simple terms, you’re never truly alone!

So how does traveling help with depression? It forces you to engage with the world. Get yourself back into the swing of things and enjoy all that the world has to offer. Move. Stay on the go. Take back control of your life.

Find Your Ray of Sunshine When Dark Clouds Loom Overhead

Many of us are familiar with the saying “find your ray of sunshine on a cloudy day.” We often take this to mean that we should always look for the positive in things even through the darkest of times. This can be a great motivational quote to remember when in need of a personal pep talk or pick me up. But what if we were to take it literally? What if people actively sought out physical sunlight during their periods of seasonal depression?

Studies have shown that the sun’s rays cause the human body to release serotonin, also known as the “feel good hormone.” Traveling to places full of fresh air and natural sunlight can help activate this process. If you live in a region that’s prone to cloudy skies, darkness, or rain, you might find visiting places with contrasting climates helps tremendously with overcoming depression and anxiety.

One of my personal cures for seasonal depression helped me understand why traveling is important for both our mental and emotional well-being.

After living in Italy for 14 years, I decided to move back to Munich. Known for its cold winters, wet summers, and year-round cloudy skies, I was fully aware of what was ahead. Even so, this didn’t stop me from experiencing seasonal depression. Weeks without sunlight was difficult. Rather than stay at home, I traveled to what I once considered to be my “ray of sunshine.” I picked up my skis and headed to the mountain tops. The summit sat above the gloomy clouds that covered the city, and I could feel and see the sunlight. This was my happy place.

Why Traveling Is Important for Your Mental Health

Traveling allows us the opportunity to expand our intellectual horizons, meet new people, and improve our personal well-being in a positive and healthy manner. We don’t often acknowledge travel as a way of overcoming depression and anxiety, but that’s not to say that we shouldn’t start!

If you’re feeling SAD, and looking for ways to cope with seasonal depression, consider the many benefits that traveling can offer. Experience it for yourself! Follow me on Instagram to get some inspiration for your next trip! Do you get feelings of depression and anxiety in the cold months? Let me know in the comments below!

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