Mental health is just as important as physical health. Especially when we are traveling.
Because let’s be real, travel can get super stressful. Even tho it gives us the opportunity to relax and get away from the stress of everyday life, it also introduces us to new sources of stress like unexpected expenses, unexpected travel problems, navigating through a new unfamiliar place and whatnot.
In order to stay mentally healthy and not ruin my trip, I tend to do these things:
1. Plan ahead and plan for a flexible routine
I used to think that it would be more adventurous if I just stay away from planning things and just go with the flow. Nope. I was damn wrong and I still regret it.
Planning ahead definitely takes a little bit of time but it reduces so much travel stress and it can save you from regrets, stress and wasting your time when you arrive somewhere (and actually miss many things).
You probably know where you are headed at least a week or two in advance, so look around for accommodation, how to get around (transport), places you wanna see, things you wanna experience etc.
Just be careful not to overdo it tho.
And please REMEMBER to plan for a flexible routine.
Planning to remain flexible definitely helped me not to ruin it all when the unexpected happened (as it usually often does).
2. Packing list
I also used to start packing the day before leaving because I thought that it would bring out all the excitement from the upcoming trip. Huge mistake. Not only did that caused huge stress but it left me being paranoid and afraid of forgetting something important.
So now, a week or so before I leave, I start creating a packing list of things I know I will want with me while I am away from my home. As my trip approaches, more items are coming to mind: medications, raincoat, you name it. I just add each item to the list as I think of (write it down on the phone cause I carry it everywhere and then add it on the actual list) and by the time I`m ready to pack, I know exactly what to bring.
The peace of mind that comes from knowing you have your headphones and phone charger while you travel is worth the extra effort it takes to make the list.
3. Wake up early-ish
I know, I know. Sometimes that’s just impossible. But, try to do it as much as you can. You will be surprised by the impact on your mental health. It will make you feel so good about yourself and you will feel like you had actually accomplished something really amazing.
Personally, I am really not a morning person and I am also over-sleeper. What I do is trying to balance things.
For example, I will try and wake up super early for a few days in a row and then reward myself with over-sleeping on a different day.
4. Learn new things
I think that we are all familiar with the fact that learning new things feeds the mind and soul. And, what’s the best opportunity to learn new things than traveling?
I am definitely not talking about learning things from reading a book (although it helps)!
I meant about learning new things and gaining new skills by talking to new people, experimenting with things and saying “YES” to new unknown experiences.
Learning is just so important to our mental health.
5. Get out of my comfort zone
Travel often forces us to get out of our comfort zone in order to have the best experience and make some crazy memories. So I thought, why not try something new?
I struggled so much and put my own self in some bad mental positions until I learned how to cope with it.
What I learned is: don’t let all the judging faces around you stop you from stepping out of your comfort zone. We are just human beings and we all judge each others.
I started asking myself questions like:
Will I see all of those people again?
Is their opinion going to improve me as a person?
In the end,
I am all on my own and no one else is in my skin. And after I answered those questions, I started making small steps on trying to get out of my comfort zone.
For example, I went to a restaurant and tried the type of food I`ve never tried before. Learned a simple skill that’s completely out of the ordinary and new to me.
If you are a shy introvert, try to strike up a conversation with a stranger. In the end, you will get to see that it wasn’t actually that hard and you will be surprised by all the benefits you are going to gain. I promise you, it is going to be a life-changing decision!
6. Self – examination
While traveling, I make sure to have the time to closely monitor my feelings and emotions and decide if its really worth it to be in that state of mind.
No matter if I`m anxious, feeling down, angry or irritated, I will try to just note those emotions and objectively think about them.
Sometimes if I`m angry means that I`m afraid, if I`m feeling anxious it’s usually a sign to slow down and relax and sometimes I don’t know what the heck anything means but objectively monitoring my emotions gives me space and information to figure it out.
Plus it takes my mental health on another level as its giving me the freedom to enjoy my travel experience to the fullest.
7. Have some alone time
Having some alone time is a necessity in order to have good mental health while trying not to lose who you really are (and trying to remember your priorities). And it’s a good investment to remember why you are traveling on the first place. Even for the biggest extroverts, some alone time is soothing for the soul.
Without being afraid of judgment, go in your own place and clear your mind.
Personally, besides clearing my mind, I tend to write down in my travel journal (to make sure I won’t forget things), listen to some music and rest my mind and body, make a beauty treatment and practice self-love.
And if you are like me – a budget backpacker who is staying in hotel dorms and via Couchsurfing the whole time, try to save up enough so you can book a private room or a private Airbnb for when you feel overwhelmed.
And remember to take as much time as you need.
8. Practice self-love
Self-love is taking a huge part of keeping and having a healthy mind and soul. Especially when traveling.
For whatever reason, practicing self-love is really hard for all of us. After years and years, I finally managed to love myself and always put myself in the first place! And no, not in a narcissistic way.
My suggestion is to “fake it till you make it”!!!
If you really lack self-love, start by faking opinions about yourself in your own mind. I am not saying that you should just lie to yourself and completely fake things. What I meant is that you should notice what the issue is and what’s bothering you and just simply realize that no one around you is perfect.
How you see yourself and the image you are presenting about you/your mind is what you teach others to think about you.
- You don’t like how your nose looks?
Be confident about it, or at least fake it till you make it there, and no one will actually think about it. Instead, you might even end up being someone else’s role model!
- People around you make you feel bad?
Distance yourself. There are so many people on this planet that will make you feel amazing. Your mental health is worth protecting.
Self-love is what makes you a better person.
All those people who are mean and go out of their way to make others feel bad are usually deeply unhappy with lots of self-issues. People who love themselves have nothing to gain by keeping others down.
9. Know my limits
I am not afraid to take a break from my planned activities if I need to relax and recharge.
That doesn’t mean that I am only going to lay down in bed and lose the whole day. For example, I will get out and spend some time in nature.
Contact with nature decreases stress, anxiety and depression and provides us with a feeling of calmness.
In order to balance everything, I tend to add plans on my list such as visiting parks, gardens, rivers, beaches or basically anything else that will help me to engage with nature and better my mental health.
10. Going easy on myself when making mistakes
In the end, we are all just trying to figure it all out.
Try to remember that no one around you is perfect and that making mistakes is what helped everybody to get where they are.
The fact that we are making mistakes means that we are trying, which is admirable and brave. And in the end, it will even turn us into experts, looking like we knew it all the whole time and never made a single mistake.
Just remember that this is your time to relax and have some fun.
In fact, if you don’t actually make mistakes, how will you learn and experience things?
Going easy on myself was the best thing I have learned to do for my mental health and it helped me to stay in the present and not get too lost in my own thoughts.
- Eat healthy.
The food you eat has a direct relationship with your brain function and mood.
For example, if you eat food high on refined sugar you will get a result of feeling depressed and irritability while eating nutrient-rich foods will nourish your brain and give you positive results.
Also, besides mentally, check how I stay physically healthy while traveling
How do you stay mentally healthy on the road? I would be more than happy to hear it from you