Feeling Low? Going On a Holiday is Travel Therapy, Says Science

Going on a holiday can have a positive impact on those with mental health issues and can function as ‘travel therapy’ for mental health and well-being.

What is “travel therapy”? Most of us have probably heard of music therapy and art therapy. A recent interdisciplinary article suggests that we alter the way we think about tourism, viewing it as an industry that can provide real health benefits and not just a recreational experience.

The Centre for Precision Health at ECU and the School of Business and Law showed that several features of vacationing could benefit people who have mental health problems or conditions.

Tourism can benefit those living with dementia

Lead researcher Dr Jun Wen said the diverse team of tourism, public health and marketing experts investigated how tourism could benefit those living with dementia. “Medical experts can recommend dementia treatments such as music therapy, exercise, cognitive stimulation, reminiscence therapy, sensory stimulation and adaptations to a patient’s mealtimes and environment,” Dr Wen said.

“These are all also often found when on holidays. “This research is among the first to conceptually discuss how these tourism experiences could potentially work as dementia interventions.”

Holiday fun… or treatment?

According to Dr. Wen, there is much potential to include therapies for illnesses like dementia because of how diverse tourism is. For instance, exposure to novel places and events may stimulate the brain and senses.

“Exercise has been linked to mental well-being and travelling often involves enhanced physical activity, such as more walking,” Dr Wen said.

“Mealtimes are often different on holiday: they’re usually more social affairs with multiple people and family-style meals have been found to positively influence dementia patients’ eating behaviour. “And then there are the basics like fresh air and sunshine increasing vitamin D and serotonin levels.

“Everything that comes together to represent a holistic tourism experience, makes it easy to see how patients with dementia may benefit from tourism as an intervention.”

Bridging tourism and health science

According to Dr. Wen, COVID-19’s effect on travel in recent years has raised concerns about the usefulness of tourism beyond lifestyle and economic considerations. “Tourism has been found to boost physical and psychological well-being,” he said. “So, after COVID, it’s a good time to identify tourism’s place in public health — and not just for healthy tourists, but vulnerable groups.” Dr Wen said he hoped a new line of collaborative research could begin to examine how tourism can enhance the lives of people with various conditions. “We’re trying to do something new in bridging tourism and health science,” he said.

“There will have to be more empirical research and evidence to see if tourism can become one of the medical interventions for different diseases like dementia or depression. “So, tourism is not just about travelling and having fun; we need to rethink the role tourism plays in modern society.”

Story Source:
Materials provided by Edith Cowan University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:
Jun Wen, Danni Zheng, Haifeng Hou, Ian Phau, Wei Wang. Tourism as a dementia treatment based on positive psychology. Tourism Management, 2022; 92: 104556 DOI: 10.1016/j.tourman.2022.104556

Cite This Page:
Edith Cowan University. “‘Travel therapy’: Could holidays help mental health and wellbeing?.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 June 2022. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/06/220623091229.htm>.

Help is here:Toll-Free Mental Health Rehabilitation Helpline Kiran (1800-599-0019)

Name of the Organisation: Vandrevala Foundation
Vandrevala Foundation is a non-profit that partners with organizations to help communities thrive by providing education and healthcare. Vandrevala Foundation launched a mental health helpline in India in 2009 to offer free psychological counselling and crisis mediation to anyone who is experiencing distress due to depression, trauma, mood disorders, chronic illness, and relationship conflict.
Website:  http://www.vandrevalafoundation.com
Contact: Email: info@vandrevalafoundation.com
Telephone: +91 9999 666 555

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