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September 7, 2020

Maintaining Mental Health Travelling

From 2010 there has been an awakening of the masses regarding the importance of maintaining good mental health! There has been a revolution… mostly because of the neo-millennial groups, who have raised their voices regarding tackling inequality in its many forms, including the treatment of mental health issues. They have helped raise the profile of the importance of talking this once taboo subject. 

While scuffing through the daily routine, we often neglect our mental health or as some tend to think of it as our peace of mind. Asking how content and settled we are with the world around us tends not to be at the forefront of our attention. Stress and life dissatisfaction can however easily creep into our everyday life, often increasing so gradually that it goes unnoticed until it catches up to us all at once. We become anxious, our mood can swing and an unsettling feeling slowly takes over our persona. Activities such as recreations and travel can alleviate some of these feelings. If we start improving our understanding, we soon realise that we have poor mental health and a lesser quality of life than we would like.

Travelling is one way to potentially bring more interest to your life through a different set of challenges and rewards. There are of course potential stressors in traveling itself. Whether you are travelling short term or longer term sustaining good mental health during traveling is essential. The potential stressors/challenges often get ignored so let’s not fall into that trap! Here are a few tips towards good mental health and the most enjoyable travel experience possible.

Plan in advance

It may sound obvious however, there are many pitfalls to look out for prior to the actual act of traveling. The planning including your priority activities for the trip must begin long before the journey itself! If you’re going hiking, pack hiking shoes, if you’re going digital working – google your up and coming locations, in advance, for internet coverage. Sounds simple but just look well ahead at what you could possibly need or encounter. Being spontaneous during the trip and picking accommodation on the hop or detouring a little is fine and is in many cases the fun part in what makes the trip worthwhile. But the main structural plan must be well thought out and solid before departing. 

When travelling solo one of the advantages is that you can make your own decisions rather than having to go with the majority. You have more flexibility to adapt to your situation daily, allowing you to react to how you feel on a specific day!! Similarly, there are problems that can come up for a solo traveller that cannot be solved easily on your own. For example, monetary issues, but a group can easy support each other if there is a lost bank card. However, a mis-planned group of people travelling together on tour can face far more extensive issues. Pleasing everyone all the time is impossible as there are people of different tastes and preferences involved. A flawed plan for a group shall not only throw the trip into disarray; it will rob you of your calm state of mind and travel tranquillity. So, choose your travel companions carefully or a tour that has a clear itinerary already planned out so you know all travellers have some shared understanding of expectation.

On hand meds

People who often have anxiety issues, depression and/or face panic attacks should carry their medicines with them at all time. If you are graced with some company on your travels, let your travel partner know of your situation.

Research is important

Often overlooked while planning, extensive research is essential. Even if you are traveling solo or in groups, adequate research of the destination and health care centres or alternatives nearby, in case of emergencies, should be taken into consideration before making any plan.

Also, where relevant, staying in contact with your personal therapist or mental health care provider to check in on route can be a great form of support.

Necessary self-care time in your itinerary

When travelling in a group as we make our plans, we tend to cram as much as possible within a short space of time. What we tend to neglect is that we all need a specific period that we should devote solely to ourselves. People often consider this as unnecessary or “wasted time,” but this, “me-time, down-time, time for ourselves” is one of the essentials that is a must for inclusion in your itinerary. 

Whether travelling solo or in a group a spa session or a yoga therapy session takes you away from the, sometime surprising and subconscious, amount of stress which is building up within you without your knowledge. 

Having good company

The company you keep is key! No matter if you are traveling in a group or solo, the other people you spend time with will have an impact on your mental health stability for the trip.

If you are a solo traveller then you will meet a variety of different people along the way. It is easy to meet people and move on if they are not adding to your enjoyment of your travel experience. There are always other options so do not spend too long trying to gel with someone that you find negative or is destructive to your feel-good factor. Move on quickly until you do meet a more positive person or group.

If you are travelling in a arranged group, hopefully you will have a shared expectation of the trip experiences which should provide some common ground and positive conversations, Even in a group with similar expectations there will be some people that you feel more energised around than others. Try to consciously identify those That generate positive feelings for you and spend as much time as possible with them.

If it is a group of family or friends, then you need to ensure you have considered the group interaction as part of the planning process. If in reality it does not work out as you thought (as it often doesn’t) then try to spend as much time with those in the group that you find interesting and make you feel positive or go out yourself ( provided it is safe to do so) and try and meet people locally.

Travelling in the right way can be relaxing and therapeutic, so set off with these tips to help get you on the road to a positive start!

Surrounding yourself with likeminded positive people, getting the right balance between self-time and time in company, will lighten your mental load, relieve anxiety and create an empowered energetic feeling inside. This will encourage your ability to deal with life with a fresh approach.

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