Traveling is one of my favorite things to do in the entire world. Some of my favorite memories and experiences have been on trips while I was traveling. It’s taught me a lot about myself and the world that we live in.
However, traveling also stresses me the heck out.
Seriously, it’s probably one of the most difficult things that I do. Traveling is stressful on it’s own but I have to manage that stress while managing depression and anxiety.
Over the years I’ve picked up some mental health travel tips and I thought I would pass them onto you. Even though traveling can be difficult I don’t want to miss out on life experiences and I think it’s worth the stress.
Keep a Routine
When I’m at home I have a very specific routine that really helps me manage my depression and anxiety. I wake up at the same time every day, take vitamins, workout and eat healthily.
When I travel it’s more difficult to keep this routine up but I know if I throw the whole thing out the window I will start feeling like crap really fast. While it can be fun to sleep in and eat nothing but french fries on vacation I try to balance everything out and mostly stick to my normal routine.
I always bring my vitamins with me when I travel, I make sure I take time to write in my journal every day and will try to sneak in a workout or two. Keeping up elements of my routine really helps my mental health while traveling.
Traveling is an amazing privilege that not many people in the world get to experience. Practice using gratitude to help you stay in the moment. Look around you and give thanks for all of the tiny little amazing things all around you. Before you head out on your trip, try to visit sites like RetailMeNot and check out amazing deals on travel-related items for Priceline.com and get things set before you go so you can enjoy without stress.
When you feel yourself starting to worry about something in the past or future bring yourself back into the present moment and give thanks that you are getting to have this experience. Practicing gratitude will help you feel more positive in the moment and enjoy your trip more overall.
When I’m having a really hard time or a bad day I will challenge myself to write 100 things I’m thankful for as fast as I can. You want to start training your brain to make note of any small good things that you encounter throughout the day. This can be tough if you’ve been really negative for a long time but it is totally possible to become more aware of your thoughts and have a positive outlook. Here is a podcast episode about how I use gratitude to shift my mood.
Give Yourself Grace
Traveling is stressful so be kind to yourself. It’s OK to feel emotional or to miss home. Allow yourself to feel your feelings and don’t judge yourself for them. Being kind to yourself will allow you to move towards the negative feelings faster so you can get back to enjoying your trip.
Pay attention to your thoughts and if you notice yourself thinking negative or judgemental thoughts about yourself redirect your focus to something else. Be intentional to treat yourself with lots of kindness on your trip.
Whenever you find yourself being impatient with yourself ask yourself if you would speak that way to a small child. If the answer is no you need to change your inner dialogue and show yourself kindness. It’s going to be hard to enjoy your trip if you’re beating yourself up and thinking negative thoughts about yourself the entire time.
Up Your Self-Care
Whenever I travel I know I’m going to be stressed out and I try to take extra good care of myself. I make sure I drink tons of water and make sure I get enough alone time.
Traveling is inherently stressful. It can be difficult to be in a new place and not know where anything is. The smallest tasks can be more difficult than when you’re at home. Having a plan in place to take extra good care of yourself while you travel can help you keep you maintain your mental health while you travel.
Identify how you’re going to cope with stressful situations when they come up so you have a plan in place.
Accepts Things Will Go Wrong
I have never been on a trip that went exactly as we planned it. Something always goes wrong. Accepting and expecting challenges to pop-up will help you cope when things go wrong.
I always expect my flight to be delayed, my bag to be lost and to not be able to get a Taxi at the airport. That way when all of those things don’t happen I’m really happy and if something does go wrong I’m mentally prepared.
Challenges can be tough to figure out but you’re capable and you can rise to the challenge. When you’re traveling you often don’t have any choice but to deal with the stressful situation in front of you. You can choose to handle it with grace or make yourself and everyone around you miserable.
Ask for Support
Let your travel companions know what you’re struggling with and how they can support you. You can’t expect people to support you if you don’t tell them what you need.
Tell them what they can do to help support you during stressful times. Let them know ahead of time how anxiety or depression manifests for you and ask them to help you spot the signs.
Having someone that can check in with you can be really helpful when you’re in a new environment. While you’re still ultimately responsible for yourself it’s OK to let people know that you’re struggling.
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