17 Mental Health Benefits Of Branching Out From Where You Grew Up

Branching out from where you grew up can have different meanings for different people. It can involve leaving home to study, pursue a career, or simply travel beyond the boundaries of your hometown for the first time. Whatever it means to you, the idea is to broaden your interests and experiences. From developing new hobbies to meeting new people, this journey can take you in various directions. One added perk of this change of scenery might just be long-term benefits for your mental health.


Branching out can come with many advantages and might be a fantastic opportunity for self-growth. We are not saying that this approach is for everyone or that you have to leave home to gain these benefits. However, a new environment may provide you with a fresh perspective and give you the boost you need to find purpose and achieve your goals across all areas of your life.

Gain confidence

In psychology, confidence is all about trusting in and being comfortable with yourself. Leaving your hometown can help you learn about your strengths, challenge assumptions about yourself, and overcome obstacles, all of which can increase self-confidence. Initially, it may be difficult, especially if you grew up in an environment that led you to question your self-worth. However, it can also be freeing because you have the opportunity to form your own judgments about who you are and who you want to be (via the University of South Florida).


According to the University of Queensland, these aspects play a role in building self-esteem, which involves cherishing yourself and acknowledging your merit. Research published in Medicine in 2021 indicated that self-esteem is often associated with mental well-being. For instance, low self-esteem can contribute to depression and anxiety, but capitalizing on the chance to build confidence and self-esteem can have a protective effect on your mental health, allowing you to overcome adversity and develop resilience.

Learn independence

Independence is a crucial aspect of cultivating our sense of identity. It allows us to explore our unique selves by expressing our autonomy, or the ability to live out our lives as we see fit. 2021 research featured in Frontiers in Psychology has shown that feelings of independence can help foster self-esteem and improve life satisfaction. By leaving the nest, we essentially put ourselves through what is called independence training.


Independence training involves setting the standards for how we want to live our lives, choosing the values we want to follow, and becoming the only judge of our achievements (via Creativity in Engineering). But independence is not just about the choices we make, it's also about follow-through. According to the University of Arizona, in order to be truly independent, we must meet our obligations and take ownership of our mistakes. In this respect, leaving home could help us build responsibility, as the two concepts are interlinked and both are important for success in life.

Build mental resilience

Resilience refers to our ability to overcome challenges in life. It involves acquiring the right tools to cope during tough times and building our mental and emotional strength. Resilient individuals can adapt to the challenges they face, not necessarily because of any particular skill, but due to their general attitude towards existence (via the American Psychology Association).


One way to cultivate resilience is through travel. Although it may be scary to venture into unfamiliar territory, it is also an opportunity. For example, a 2021 literature review published in Frontiers in Psychology highlighted that coping skills are often developed through difficult situations, as they encourage us to build effective strategies that allow us to enhance our resilience in the future.

A 2020 study demonstrated that building resilience correlates with higher levels of emotional well-being and positivity and lower levels of anxiety and depression. However, cultivating resilience does not mean you have to face difficulties alone. It's okay to seek assistance from others, such as friends, family, or a therapist, if you need help growing this skill.


Explore yourself

Self-exploration can help overcome limiting self-beliefs, such as negative or untrue views that hinder you from achieving your full potential (per PositivePsychology.com). It can also provide fresh perspectives on why we behave the way we do and help us gain more control over these behaviors (via California State University, Long Beach). There are many ways to kick-start this process, such as trying new things or exposing yourself to new situations, which naturally happens when leaving home.


Building a practice of self-exploration that enables us to accept ourselves truthfully is positively correlated with overall psychological well-being. For instance, research from 2017 shared in Clinical Psychology indicated that individuals who live and express themselves in accordance with their authentic selves experience less anxiety, despair, and relationship difficulties. However, living genuinely requires courage and ongoing self-cultivation and exploration. Once you start, not only will you feel more at peace with yourself, but you'll also know that the people in your life accept you for who you truly are.

Broaden your mind

Visiting new places and experiencing a wide variety of people, lifestyles, and ways of thinking can help you develop increased trust and understanding of others. Research from 2013 indicated that the more a person travels, the greater their trust in other humans. In this case, the breadth of one's experience, that is, the more diverse the range of places visited, the less biased and more understanding the traveler becomes (per Social Psychological and Personality Science).


But that's not all. By getting out and engaging with different people, you can enhance your sense of well-being. A change in mindset that encourages more openness and desire to engage with the world at large was shown to have a key influence on one's overall sense of well-being in a 2011 paper published in Ageing & Society. For instance, the paper indicated that the more a person spent time out of the house and participated in different social situations, the more satisfied and happy they were with their lives.

Take time for self-reflection

Self-reflection centers on taking a deeper look at one's behavior, decisions, motivations, and future aspirations. According to The Handbook of Personality Dynamics and Processes, self-reflection is a key component of self-actualization, which involves reaching one's full potential. In other words, it's a way of creating the best version of oneself. This practice can play a positive role in helping us understand our place in the world.


A 2017 study from Frontiers in Psychology indicated that people who take time to self-reflect gain a greater sense of self-awareness and reassurance in their choices. However, to do this, we may need to take time away from others to gain a true perspective of who we are. As literature from 2018 on the topic described, solitude, combined with a desire for independence, can help develop a healthy practice of self-reflection, something that time away from home might offer (per the Journal of Personality).

Making new connections

The idea of leaving behind familiar faces and striking out on your own can be daunting. However, it can also present an opportunity to forge meaningful new connections. By cultivating quality relationships, you can improve your overall well-being. As a 2023 research review published in Frontiers in Psychology explained, adult friendships can provide emotional and social support and help people feel validated. These factors can be especially impactful during times of psychological distress.


The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) emphasized the importance of human connections, noting that they are just as crucial to human health as diet and physical activity. For example, they can help mitigate symptoms of low mental health, such as anxiety and depression. However, CMHA suggested that simply connecting online is not enough in today's world. Instead, it advised seeking out new and diverse experiences. Moving away from your hometown is an excellent opportunity to do so. You never know where you might make new friends, but joining local groups and trying new activities is a great place to start.

Develop a more flexible thinking style

According to author Leonard Mlodinow (via Scientific America), people with a flexible thinking style tend to cope better with difficult situations than those with an inflexible way of thinking. They're more accepting of their reality and can use their personal values to guide them during times of stress. "We have to be willing to rise above conventional mindsets, to reframe the questions we ask, to be open to new paradigms," Mlodinow explained. "We have to rely as much on our imagination as on logic, and have the ability to generate and integrate a wide variety of ideas, to welcome experiment, and be tolerant of failure." Flexibility is something that allows humans to thrive as a result of change.


Leaving home and taking on the responsibilities of caring for yourself will likely expose you to situations where you face obstacles you haven't encountered before. This can be an opportunity to develop the skills of a flexible thinking style. 2020 research from the Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science noted that flexibility is positively correlated with mental resilience, self-awareness, and taking effective action when issues present themselves. In fact, flexibility is suggested to be the cornerstone of good mental health, as nobody can go through life without difficulty. Flexibility may give us an edge when dealing with unprecedented circumstances.

Improve your communication

As a 2022 review article in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B expounded, good communication skills are essential tools for survival, no matter where you are. They can help you maintain relationships, prevent isolation, and better understand others. In departing from where you've grown up, you'll likely meet new people and need to stay in touch with old connections. Your new environment will provide an opportunity to put your communication skills into action and improve them.


For example, the Harvard Department of Professional Development highlighted that communication skills are more than just speaking; they also include actively listening to others, utilizing social cues like body language and tone, and having emotional awareness in order to better understand and empathize with others. According to licensed mental health counselor Hailey Shafir (via SocialSelf), these are skills you may not be able to master from your close circle of acquaintances, as different situations require different contextual understandings. To develop these skills, you may need to broaden your experiences and engage with different types of people.

Grow social skills

Adapting to a new lifestyle or environment may also benefit your social or interpersonal skills. This goes beyond communication as a lone skill, as it encompasses a wider range of interactions with others, such as collaboration, empathy, and adaptability (via Harvard Graduate School of Education). A 2019 study showed that good social skills can help mediate anxiety, depression, and mental health outcomes when a person is away from home (as reported in the Journal of Adolescence).


Leaving the roost provides an opportunity to reinvent yourself and improve your social competence. According to a 2019 article in the Journal of College Student Development, we can empower our own self-growth by actively trying to improve these skills and learning from the experiences of others. As the author stated, "Experience becomes the source of self-identity and adults are a rich resource for one another." By engaging more, we can enrich our lives and expand our social worlds.

Commit to yourself

In behavioral science, there's a mindfulness practice called acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). This therapy teaches individuals to cope with difficult situations by committing to themselves in the present moment. ACT has been shown to have positive effects on stress regulation, anxiety, and overcoming fear. This is because ACT is all about bringing attention to the now through a carefully planned strategy of dedication to one's goals and values, as explained by WebMD.


Learning this skill can help bring mindfulness and purpose to our actions, which means committing to our decisions and taking responsibility for them. Based on documentation from the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science, many of ACT's tenets could be said to focus on independence because it situates the self as the context for how we perceive our lives. In other words, it encourages individuals to consider how they want to live, identify their beliefs and values, and make choices that are right for them, not because someone or something else tells them what these things should be.

Empower self-growth

According to a 2022 study published in Sustainability, having a mindset geared towards self-growth can be an important step in achieving happiness and well-being. This is especially true for young people, such as those who have left home to study. Focusing on their development as individuals, with factors such as social, family, and school life coming second, often leads to the most happiness.


One way to start this journey is by taking on new challenges and branching out from what we're used to. 2015 literature on the topic of self-growth featured in the International Journal of Process Education emphasized the importance of self-challenging and moving out of one's comfort zone. Self-growers, as the authors described them, are people who continually set themselves new challenges, big and small. They learn from their mistakes and accept them, allowing them to reach higher levels of attainment and foster self-worth. Both of these approaches can be helpful in fostering a sense of happiness and well-being in one's life.

Find a sense of purpose

A 2019 study published in Counseling Psychology Quarterly demonstrated that individuals who have a strong sense of meaning in their lives are more likely to be happy and less stressed than those who do not. Why is this the case? For one, when a person views their life as meaningful, it can be an important safeguard against depression, anxiety, and risky behaviors. Additionally, a lack of purpose can create dissonance between one's self and their environment, causing one to feel that they have no control over their actions.


To discover such meaning, a survey shared by Pew Research Center suggested that individuals must find their own sense of independence, such as leaving home to pursue their dreams and interests. In other words, to live a life that is meaningful, one must be able to exist in a way that aligns with their values and priorities, whether that be family, a career, or the pursuit of certain hobbies. This requires having the space to make and act upon your own decisions.

Discover new passions

When you visit a new place, you might discover unexpected experiences and adventures. You might even find a passion you've never pursued before. Such passions might express themselves in different ways, such as new hobbies or activities. This can positively impact your psychological well-being and ripple into other areas of your life.


This concept has evolved from the Dualistic Model of Passion discussed in the book "Psychology of Passion," which explores how determination and interest can guide us in life. The model presents two types of passions: harmonious and obsessive, and suggests that the former leads to more positive outcomes. Harmonious passions, as opposed to obsessive passions, are not short-term or done out of compulsion, but rather long-lasting pursuits we choose to take part in that align with our needs and goals. They become part of who we are, can help us stay focused on what's important, and can be pursued in whatever manner serves us best.

Take more ownership of your life

Healthy accountability can significantly contribute to success in relationships with others and foster self-growth and improvement. According to psychological literature, true independence goes hand-in-hand with taking ownership of our actions. Achieving the right balance between the two positively affects various aspects of mental well-being, such as building resilience, self-regulation, and providing direction in life (via Philosophy, Psychiatry, & Psychology).


Elaborating on this, Harley Therapy noted that by learning to trust our own decisions and following through on them, we feel more accountable for our lives and gain more power over the things within our control. It's not about being perfect or getting everything right. Ownership means the ability to make mistakes and take responsibility for our missteps while learning from them. Leaving home can be the first milestone in this effort, something you can commit to and can feel proud of. Moreover, doing so can help build self-worth and trust in the choices you make going forward.

Learn discipline

The American Psychological Association describes self-discipline as the ability to regulate short-term wants in order to achieve long-term objectives. It involves managing our emotions in a healthy way and sticking to the course we've set for ourselves. While these aspects are sometimes related to regimented or restricted practices, self-discipline is not about punishment (per Paediatrics Child Health). First and foremost, it's about changing behavior without judgment to enhance rather than chastise yourself.


Leaving home and setting out on our own for the first time might tempt us to go off the rails a bit, but it's also a good way to set boundaries for ourselves. These boundaries can help us build self-esteem and develop independence. Boundaries are about being honest with ourselves and what we want, taking responsibility for actions, and moving towards our goals in a way that reflects our values and aims. In fact, they're a form of relationship self-care, and creating them is simply a way to facilitate self-discipline by advocating for our emotional, physical, and mental needs (via WebMD).

Gain appreciation for what you have

Gratitude is an important trait to cultivate as it can improve your overall sense of well-being, according to 2020 research in the Journal of Happiness Studies. By focusing on the positive aspects of our lives, we gain perspective on the things that aren't going so well. For example, we become more resilient to daily stressors when we appreciate the small moments of joy in our lives, even if they are imperfect.


One way to foster gratitude is by expressing appreciation for what we're thankful for. A study found that just writing a few sentences a week about what we're grateful for can help us see the bright side of things instead of always focusing on the negatives (via Harvard Health).

Being on our own can also help foster this trait, as distance from loved ones can give us a new perspective and a better sense of our blessings. As detailed in a 2022 research article, people often feel more grateful for things like their health and well-being when away from those they care about, providing a good opportunity to gain perspective (per Frontiers in Psychology).