Guest post by: Henry Moore of FitWellTraveler
Henry is the co-creator of FitWellTraveler. The site blends two of his favorite subjects (travel and health) to provide readers with information about how to get the most out of both. He believes travel can change you, and good health preserves you. He combines both in his work on FitWellTraveler.
Travel, especially when it is done abroad, can be the ideal activity to kick-start a journey toward long-term sobriety. The self-healing process is often years-long, if not lifelong, and the new perspective which traveling provides can help facilitate the introspective processes necessary to heal old wounds.
Those who choose to travel while in recovery must do so responsibly, bringing along a companion and putting in place systems to reinforce the dedication to a substance-free life. This may mean bringing your dog, which can make the vacation even more memorable, as the dog provides a constant sense of comfort that many addicts need to remain on the right path.
Mental Health Benefits of Travel
U.S. News and World Report documents many of the benefits that come from traveling, including an elevated mood and diminished stress. While it has been stated that the benefits of travel on mental health diminish after the trip is complete, the internal discovery which may arise from time spent in new surroundings can be lifelong and essential to full recovery.
According to Psychology Today, chronic stress diminishes both physical and mental health, even potentially leading to biological changes which can exacerbate feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and depression. These symptoms of stress are also linked to addictive behaviors, meaning that something must be done to break the cycle of stress. Travel, you may have guessed, is the ideal way to break this stress cycle.
Vacation is known to be reinvigorating, and the time spent away from home is likely to help give perspective on life’s problems. In the case of those in recovery, this may also mean beneficial reflection on the issues that have led to addiction. The overall improvement in cognitive function associated with traveling means that those in recovery will be in a healthy mental state, which will not only help to avoid relapse but also to form long-term solutions through self-exploration.
If the one traveling is a dog owner, they may decide to bring their companion along with them should logistics permit. This, too, can have added benefits to those hoping to achieve mental health benefits in assisting their recovery.
Considerations for Traveling with a Dog
Many who travel during a period of recovery may wisely choose a nature-heavy itinerary. Psychiatry Advisor notes that nature is, in and of itself, beneficial to mental wellbeing, so incorporating a heavy dose of nature in your sober travel plans is ideal. Such a trip is also well-suited to those who want to bring their dog along.
The addition of your pup into a trip which already incorporates exposure to nature is a trifecta of mental health benefits. Dogs, like nature and travel, have been found to provide benefits to its owner, including but not limited to lowered blood pressure, muscle relaxation, and other signs of reduced stress. Of course, considerations must be made to ensure your dog’s safe travel, and one should consider whether their dog will be truly up for a potentially long, hectic journey. If one deems their dog worthy to travel, it can be of great benefit in further aiding self-discovery and mental and physical wellbeing.
Those in recovery can use all the help they can get in staying sober and happy. Traveling, particularly soon after completing rehabilitation, can be an invaluable first-step in fostering a long-term set of skills for sobriety. Chief among these skills is the ability to engage in genuine self-discovery, assessing what it is that causes addictive behaviors and how to avoid those triggers. Traveling in its many forms can serve as one of many replacements for time formerly spent engaging in addictive behaviors, and bringing along a companion – whether human or canine – will help to make the trip more enjoyable and less daunting, maximizing the benefits of travel for those in recovery.