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**Originally published at wibehavioralhealth.com in 2020. Re-posted here with minor updates for 2021 for the ongoing pandemic.

Wanderlust is defined by Merriam-Webster as being a strong longing for or impulse toward wandering. It goes on to describe that individuals with wanderlust do not necessarily need to go anywhere in particular; they just don’t care to stay in one spot. Now that we are 8 weeks?! (edited to update: almost a year!?!?) into physical distancing, the wanderlust has become strong even for those who generally like to stay in a predictable, routine oriented environment. Perhaps it is because we are restricted where we can wander and miss freedom of choice. Perhaps it is loneliness and isolation. Perhaps it is because we are spending waaaaay too much time with the same people day after day, after day, after day… Or perhaps it is because you have always been a wanderer, seeking out adventure and new experiences and environments. Some people settle, some people partially settle, and some are always seeking a new escapade. Wherever you fall on the spectrum of wanderlust, this physical distancing is hard.

Mindset is essential for maneuvering through these times and maintaining some sense of normalcy. As such, it is important to clarify the difference between “social distancing” and “physical distancing.” As humans, we need to be social. Even when we are separated from others for various reasons. Socialization and our social support system and relationships play a strong role in our wellbeing. We do not need to stop socializing. We need to change how we socialize. What does need to happen is a physical distancing from people. We don’t have to be afraid of smiling at others, making eye contact, or even exchanging a comment. Many are afraid to leave their house even though researchers have indicated going for walks, for example, is safe as long as we maintain a 6 – 10 foot space between people. Psychology Today highlights the research that shows us that our physical and emotional health are dependent on loving relationships and physical touch. In other words, avoiding others increases stress and increasing stress decreases your immune system. Of course, there are other side effects too, but this one strikes close to home during the current virus pandemic. Physical distance and travel restrictions can feel restrictive. And let’s be honest, they are. But there are ways to socialize and wander even during COVID19 2020/2021.

So for those of us who are itching to travel again and explore our world, our time will come again soon. Until then, all of us have opportunities to explore within our immediate communities and physically distance while also socializing. Some suggestions to meet the needs of wandering include walking in a new area in your community, going for a car ride down a country road, camp in your backyard, binge on Our Planet via your streaming service, or even read a book set in a different country. Our world will never be the same, but we will appreciate it more when we can explore again!


How to Indulge Your Wanderlust at Home During the Coronavirus Pandemic. Retrieved from: https://the-shooting-star.com/travel-advice-coronavirus-indulge-wanderlust-at-home/

Social vs. Physical Distancing: Why It Matters by Amy Banks. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/wired-love/202004/social-vs-physical-distancing-why-it-matters