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Did You Know That Travelling Has Psychological Benefits?

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By Shivakshi:

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.

Are There Medical Benefits To Travelling?

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

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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