A peer, as we say, is a companion, someone who is there for us when the world has turned its back upon us, someone we can rely on in our lowest points and from whom we seek calm and comfort on our dark days. Having just that one peer can prove to be miraculous and life-changing for an individual. A cup of tea on a rainy-dingy day, a loving hug from a pet, a warm gesture of caress from a loved one, a cosy couch with a favourite book to read, a splash of colours on a blank canvas, when thoughts are whirling up, can all be peers when need be.
Speaking of a peer, a very recurrent thought that keeps crossing my mind is – travel. Travel does not always necessarily mean to cover massive distances. Travel might just be for a few hours or a destiny that is just a few kilometres away. The important point is to move places, experiencing a change and getting out of the comfort zone. From a psychological point of view, travelling helps one to broaden the horizons of their mind, provoke nascent thoughts, and helps to embrace differences in perspectives.
Travelling exposes you to the diverse, varied cultures and traditions; and as humans, we are blessed with an extraordinary virtue, of not just seeing things, but experiencing them and learning from them, thus, making our journeys even the more satisfying and enriching.
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
~ Augustine of Hippo
If we have to speak of travelling as a peer, and its importance on similar lines, I would describe travelling as a mindfulness activity; one that allows you to escape the monotony of your everyday life, and helps in rejuvenation. It refreshes, not just the body but also the mind and the soul. When travelling, one reflects on their own thoughts, calmy, wisely and constructively. Travelling might also be a way to gain knowledge for some and enhance their experiences and learning.
Travelling can have a long-lasting impact on a person and can also prove to be a turning point for some others. While moving and going across different cultures and traditions, a person comes across different mindsets, and differences in opinions. You also learn how to respect those differences, and with that comes humility; humility to have respect and regard for other’s philosophies and notions, and accepting differences, without contradicting the right and the wrong.
At times, when you feel low, or just don’t feel yourself at the moment, taking a walk or going for a long drive can bring in and settle the peace within. The reason being, by giving yourself time and space, you are also allowing yourself to authentically feel the emotions and feelings, which otherwise, you would have dismissed or repressed.
Travelling is not an escape, but it provides you with a safe and open space instead, to reflect within, without any judgments, whatsoever. Travelling can make one sensitive and empathetic as a person, and in turn, help to evolve a holistic personality.
Moreover, apart from all the psychological benefits and also emotional development, travelling has proven to be beneficial medically, as well. When you travel to a different place altogether and experience the new cultures, and meet new people, there are certain hormones released in your body. Along with giving you a certain adrenaline rush for trying out new and thrilling activities, it also releases hormones which give you a feeling of satiation. Furthermore, travelling releases a number of happy hormones which prove to reduce pain, (physical and emotional), increase immunity, and help in reducing depressive and negative thoughts.
While we live in the era of millennials, where travelling is about being a blogger or posting Instagram-able pictures for social validation and peer-acceptance, travelling is just so much more than that. It cuts you off from the toxicity of the world, (environmental, physical or emotional) and helps you to reconnect with nature and its serenity. Being close to nature and appreciating the beauty around, gives you a sense of purpose, and instils hope and feelings of worthiness. It will help you to look at the world as your home and expand your sense of belongingness on mother Earth. More often than not, we get to connect to people in real life, and not just on social media, and we get to expand our social circle for real, and not just on virtual platforms. Knowing people from different countries and cultures has a thrill and inquisitiveness of its own.
So the next time you feel kind of low, or you feel like disconnecting yourself from the world, connect yourself to the beauty that the world has to offer instead; travel. Maybe you will find yourself on a journey elsewhere!
Author credentials: M.Sc. Counselling Psychologist