Crooked Flight has been a place where Eileen and others speak openly about their own battles with mental health, dealing with anxiety, depression and panic attacks, while trying to travel and see the world. It’s not an easy battle by any means, but many manage to push through and not give up on their dreams. There’s so much pressure that traveling should make you feel better, but that’s not always the case. Traveling can be really tough on anyone’s mental health, so here are five ways to keep your mental health in check while exploring the world.
Anxiety is often exacerbated by not feeling in control, so if you prepare for all eventualities, and know that you have everything you need for a successful trip, hopefully, this will help ease your worries. Having lots planned to look forward to is a great idea, however, try not to plan too much, so you can allow yourself room to rest and/or go on more spontaneous adventures without feeling the pressure.
Know your triggers
It’s not always easy to know what makes us feel better or worse, but the more aware of this you can be, the more you can prepare. For example, if you know that being alone for too long makes you feel low, look to stay in a hostel that arranges events and meet-ups. If you know lack of sleep affects your mental health negatively, read reviews of accommodation to see what the noise pollution is like. The more you can second-guess and prepare for your own mental health, the better.
Take time out
Travelling can be so full-on that it’s important to take some time to just be. The best way to do this is through some simple meditation. Meditation doesn’t have to be sitting on top of a mountain, chanting for hours; it can be five minutes in your hotel room before you head out for the day. It helps to put your mind in a good place and the breathing techniques are something you can do any time, anywhere, without anyone else noticing if you find yourself feeling a little anxious.
Keep physically well
Your mental and physical health is so intrinsically linked, that you may find that if you are not getting enough sleep, drinking too much, or not being as active as usual, your mental health will suffer. That doesn’t mean you have to head to the gym every morning, but a bit of yoga, a swim or even just a walk around the local village will help keep everything a little more in balance.
Be kind to yourself
When you find yourself feeling depressed or anxious on the trip of a lifetime, you might be a little frustrated – after all, you should be having the time of your life, right? Unfortunately, mental illness does not care about what you ‘should’ be feeling, and these things seem to happen when they are least welcome. Don’t beat yourself up about it, that will only make yourself feel worse. Just accept and acknowledge your feelings and look at how you can change the way you feel.
Remember that you’ve got through 100% of your bad days so far, and you will get through this. Just because you’re having a bad mental health day, doesn’t mean it will carry on, so just let yourself feel how you need to feel and be gentle and kind with yourself.
Hopefully, these tips will help you feel more confident and prepared to manage your own mental health while travelling. Remember that mental health is as important as physical health and even if you don’t have a specific mental illness, you still need to be aware of your mental health.
How do you manage your mental health while traveling?