How to Take Care of Your Mental Health While Traveling
Your Mental Health Matters
Traveling can be an amazing adventure, but it’s also a challenging experience that can take a toll on your mental health — especially if you are prone to depression and anxiety.
You’ll be faced with strange situations on a daily basis, and although that is exciting, it can also be exhausting. You’ll also be without familiar support systems or a routine, as well as facing culture shock, lack of sleep and language barriers.
However, it is possible to preserve your mental health as you travel and have an amazing experience while abroad rather than a breakdown. Here are some important things to remember about mental health and traveling abroad that may help.
Take an inventory of your current mental health so you can be aware of any potential issues that might arise while you travel. For example, have you had issues before with depression, anxiety, sleep disorders or other issues?
What types of situations tend to trigger these issues? What things have helped you with these problems in the past? Being honest with yourself about your mental health will help you to manage it. For example, if you struggle with depression but find writing about it in a journal is helpful, you will want to bring that journaling habit along with you on your travels.
Know Your Destination
When it comes to traveling and your mental health, it may help to do plenty of research about your destination before you leave; find out what to expect from the climate, culture and standard of living. Think about what you know about yourself and try to anticipate the aspects of destination that will affect your mental health.
The more you know, the better prepared you will be to adjust to your new surroundings.
Don’t Travel Too Fast
Many travelers make the mistake of trying to fit too many destinations into one short trip, only to find themselves burnt out and exhausted. If you can slow down and stay in each destination for a little longer, even if it means seeing fewer destinations overall, you’ll feel less rushed, stressed and overwhelmed.
Traveling slower will also allow you more time to adjust to the culture and more time to get a good sleep, eat well and get plenty of exercise.
Budget More Than You Need
Traveling will be a lot more stressful than it needs to be if you are worried about money. Before your trip, make a generous estimate of what you think you will need and then save up more than this. Having a little extra means you will be able to deal with the little hiccups that happen on the road — such as stolen items and unexpected fees — without being concerned about running out of money.
Exercise on the Road
The link between physical exercise and mental health has been outlined clearly by many studies. Exercise releases chemicals in your brain that make you feel good and boost your self-esteem. It will also reduce tension, improve confidence, give you a natural energy boost, decrease anger and improve your sleep.
Staying in an exercise routine can be challenging on the road, but it’s not impossible. Jogging or walking are activities that can be done almost anywhere in the world.
Also, many hotels have gyms or swimming pools where you can exercise. You can also integrate exercise into your travel explorations by going on a walking tour, renting a bike or taking a guided hike.
Keep in Touch
When it comes to mental health and traveling abroad, you should stay in touch with a loving friend or family member back home who you can call or message when you need a bit of support. There will be the odd day when your bus was delayed, the hotel was overbooked, you got lost or you are just feeling a little bit stressed out and homesick.
Sometimes a Skype chat with someone who cares can be what you need to boost your spirits and make you feel excited about your journey again.
Make New Friends
Although it’s important to stay in contact with loved ones back home while traveling long term, it’s also crucial not to become too dependent on them. It’s also essential to talk to people who you meet on the road and make new friends.
Staying in hostels is a great opportunity to do this — it’s hard to be lonely when you are surrounded by other excited, passionate travelers from all over the world.
Stay Present in the Moment
Keep these tips in mind for taking care of your mental health while on the road so that you can have a happier, calmer and more enjoyable trip. Most of all, remember to stay present in the moment. Remind yourself to take a deep breath and look around at your strange, beautiful and fascinating surroundings. Focus on the moment, go with the flow and enjoy the ride!