People are flying to destinations like Thailand, Brazil, and India to get surgical procedures for half the cost. I questioned how much money people spend in psychological services and medications in the U.S. for depression. Mental health tourism would be a fraction of the cost of the current mental health system, and it would actually work.
My latest travels in Central America and Southeast Asia encouraged me to begin a business associated to travel and psychology, both of which I know pretty well. I was a little depressed and/or stressed with life before traveling to Central America, and while I was there, I realized some intriguing things.
- Strive to plan your life no more than 24 hours in advance. This is not especially easy for most of us. It was easy for me to do while traveling, but when i got back home from the trip, this approach was a great deal harder. Nevertheless, I am trying. There are of course, some things you cannot plan 24 hours ahead. However, "day to day life stuff" can and should be planned only 24 hours ahead of time Try it out. This alone can greatly decrease stress. When you aren’t worrying about the future and what needs to be done next week, next month, next year..... You start to realize that life is substantially more effortless and stress free.
- Developing a World Perspective. This is one of the most important things I have learned. While traveling to locations that do not have the luxury and convenience I am accustomed to, I understood how much I took for granted. It’s easy to sit back and grumble that you don’t possess a nicer car, or extra money in the bank, but when you fully grasp how little others have in MOST of the world and see it first hand, you really gain PERSPECTIVE. Not only a world perspective but a life perspective.
- Tolerance. A world perspective includes increasing tolerance of other people and situations. You meet and network with people from a completely different social and economic status, culture, and belief systems. This enables you to comprehend that “we are all humans on the planet earth”. Think about that…. we are all humans on the planet earth. Tolerance of other people assists you realize we need tolerance of ourselves. It helps you keep grounded in what is important. Tolerance also helps you adapt to circumstances that are out of your control and helps you learn patience. These are all attributes that you will develop from international travel.
- Seeing the world through another’s eyes. This is a specific thing I never expected. How do others see you and the land you come from? This will open your eyes to our current world and brings you to a new realization. The realization that I encountered was that we as US citizens are sheltered from the rest of the world. Other countries travel extensively. Many have 1 month or more of paid vacation per year. Many people in other countries of the world travel once they graduate college or high school or both. They attain a perspective of other cultures that we as U.S. citizens only get from the internet and news. I would have never realized how they see my world and my country, had I never traveled internationally and being familiar with their views has helped me significantly.
- Mental Tourism vs. Vacation. I believe that 2 weeks of vacation a year is generally not enough. Not enough time to re-charge our mental batteries, and not enough time to truly relax. By the time you get settled in a spot, and get over jet lag and any intestinal adjustments…. it’s time to go home. This is a typical vacation that requires you to cram-in as much as you can in the time allotted. Mental Tourism takes 1 month minimum. We need time to adjust and learn. We need time to be away from our cell phones, computers, traffic and the general heaviness of urban life. This cannot be gained in two weeks. When taking medications for depression and mental disorders, a good number of psychologist’s claim you need a month for medications to "take hold". This is as a rule, how long the brain takes to re-program and re-charge. It takes this long for brain chemistry to begin to change. This is a good thing..... otherwise rapid changes in brain chemistry would cause enormous leaps from depression to elation, minute to minute.. If you need a "vacation"… take ONE MONTH MINIMUM!
- Excitement is the anti-thesis of boredom. Boredom = depression therefore Excitement = Happiness. We get so bogged down in our static, predetermined routines that we lose sight of what makes us happy. Things that previously would excite us.... no longer excite us. We become depressed. We need to start establishing more excitement in our lives. Travel achieves this for you! There is nothing like getting up each day in a place you know little about, with no genuine plans or places to be. Some would say this is scary, but in a way, fear is excitement. I accomplished so much on our trip that was exciting and even sometimes dangerous. However, I never felt more alive and happy.
- The Art of Letting It Go. Follow your intuition, and allow for life to take you on the path of least resistance. This key to eradicating stress and anxiety, (as well as depression) is letting go of the control we have developed through a conditioned life of planning. It isn't until we let go of that control, that we discover that life has a plan… a design. I achieved this on my excursion to Central America. I permitted intuition and circumstance to be my guide and didn’t worry where I ended up, or how I would get there. The anxiety simply melted away. I truly let go. What you will realize is that life isn’t any more stressful. I learned that it doesn't matter which road you go down and that perception is 90% of every situation