(Disclaimer: We are NOT providing advice about mental health treatment!)
I’m a Psychology professor with clinical training, and A is a Licensed Master Social Worker. Both of us have had experience working with people with mental illness and individuals from various walks of life. Traditionally, treatment for depression (as an example) focuses on either the biomedical and/or the psychotherapeutic approaches. Those are typical approaches that a clinician would recommend, and are very effective for many people.
As part of your personal wellness program, have you considered travel? What about service work? Many people see these activities as mutually exclusive, but we know, from our experience (including service projects with college students), how transforming travel and service can be together. We’ve taken students on service projects to New Orleans -post Katrina, as well as to Mexico border towns (when the violence wasn’t as crazy as now), and our lives, and our students’, were changed forever.
Read more about our Mexico Medical Mission Adventures.
Conventional wisdom tells us that we act according to our emotions and beliefs, butSocial Psychologists have known for years that our actions can create a change in our attitudes and beliefs. We can literally ‘act our way into feeling and believing.’ Research has demonstrated that mood can be improved by helping others. Given this premise, we don’t have to sell someone the benefits of travel and service, but to merely get them involved, to try it out. The act of meeting new people in new places, and doing meaningful service work, can transform how one feels about themselves and even their direction in life. For example, one of my students who was pursuing a nursing career, now knows specifically that she wants to pursue pediatric nursing, because of her Mexico service experience working with children.
Read about our Service Learning projects in New Orleans.
If you’ve been following our blog, you know that we’re relocating to Chiang Mai, Thailand later this year. We plan to participate in service work, and set up service learning projects with local programs there. We hope to partner with colleges/universities to help set up service learning projects for students.
“It turns out that giving- far more than receiving- is a surprisingly potent force whose impact reverberates across an entire lifetime, nourishing health and happiness in astonishing ways.” —Stephen Post
Travel and service are integral parts of our lives, and we think of them as part of our family’s wellness program. Are they part of yours?
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