Why Travel Is Good For The Soul…..

A recent article published by The Gaurdien informed their readership that depression among young people is on the rise.  There were some interesting and perhaps, even valid arguments as to why more of today’s youth are struggling.  I must confess though, I was not impressed when figures published in said article stated medication can help relieve the symptoms of depression.

Please, don’t get me wrong. Eight years working in and around the public health system has more made me aware of the wonderful effects some medications can have on people with need.  I must however stress that medications should often, especially when dealing with depression be the absolute last resort.

The mind is a very powerful tool.  It can play tricks on us and lead us down pathways we would otherwise avoid.  At some stage in our lives, almost all of us suffer from depression. In many ways, it’s unavoidable.  Finding mechanisms to help us cope and eventually move on is the tricky part.  Or is it?

I’ve regularly been on the road for the best part of 21 years now.  That’s well more than half my life time thus far.  And then some!  I started looking for adventures in 1995 after read Jack Kerouac’s literary masterpiece, “On The Road”.  It started with little side trips to places like Melbourne and Sydney.  An escape route if you like from the pressures of not fitting into society and the pressure from being a victim of child molestation from within the Catholic school system as a young boy.

If I am being brutally honest, I never felt any urge by my mid to late teens to fit in anywhere except where I wanted to be.  I wanted to be free from ownership.  Free from school, free from University, free from a “career” in an office job where I became a whore to the banks in an effort to buy my own home and lead the simple life.  I longed for adventure (I still do) and knew that conforming to society’s expectations was never going to make me a happy soul.

Through travel, I found new cities, new people and a new lease on life.  I began to see how other cultures lived when I began to travel abroad on a regular basis.  I witnessed abject poverty, greed like no other and everything in between.  If anything, I began to learn that I didn’t need a house full of possessions or money in the bank to be happy.  Wandering from place to place, learning about life as I went, meeting amazing people in hostels and enjoying constant personal growth that money can’t buy.  With this, my depression began to fade.  As if the shackles had been broken.

What travel indeed does to the mind is a most wonderful thing.  It frees you from the restrictions enforced upon you.  It helps you see that owning the latest iPhone or having that expensive car will not make you happy.  Travel makes you open up to the truth of living.  From my humble experience, travel can be the best cure for depression.  Medication for depression should be an absolute last resort.

The younger generation being spoke of in The Gaurdien article may be depressed because they are chasing the unrealistic dreams of fame and personal wealth?  The further away it seems the lower their self esteem falls.  Cutting away their obsession for possessions and being loved by everyone is the first step.  Travel and exploration is the next and once you master this break from conforming to western ways, your life will be so much better for it.

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