4 Tips to Maintain Mental Health While Traveling
Traveling is one of the most exciting, enriching experiences you can have. It’s a chance to experience new cultures, step out of your comfort zone, and see the world in a different light. It can be transformative and open up your life in new, unexpected ways.
Though traveling is often viewed as having an entirely positive impact on your mental health, that isn’t always the case — especially for the millions of Americans who deal with mental illness each year — as it can also have a negative effect on your mental health. For all the good travel can do for you, it can also be draining, emotionally exhausting, and detrimental to your mental well-being.
However, that doesn’t mean you should avoid traveling altogether, just that you should take time during your adventures to take care of your mental health. Whether you’re dealing with a mental illness or not, it’s always important to prioritize your health, particularly during your travels. Here are a few tips to help ensure you stay both happy and healthy while exploring the world:
Take Care of Your Finances
According to the American Psychological Association, 62 percent of Americans identify money as their number one source of stress. Traveling can be costly, and though there are plenty of ways to reduce your expenses or make money on the road, it’s hard not to get anxious about your finances when you travel.
If you find yourself worrying about money for your upcoming travels, regardless of how long you’ll be gone, be sure to tackle your finances head-on. Organize your finances before you leave so you don’t have to worry about it on your trip.
For a short vacation, consider paying your bills before you leave or setting up auto-pay so you don’t miss a payment while you’re gone. For longer trips, consider making bigger changes, such as paying off credit card debt or refinancing your student loans, so your worries don’t follow you around the world. Do whatever you need to for your own peace of mind.
Check In With Yourself
Traveling can be incredibly busy (isn’t that part of the fun?), and between all the sights you want to see and moving from one place to the next, it’s all too easy to lose track of how you feel. Be sure to check in with yourself periodically, especially when you feel too busy to think about it.
Pause and ask yourself if you need anything. Are you hungry, angry, lonely, or tired? If so, what can you do to change that? Ignoring these feelings can leave you feeling awful and turn an otherwise lovely day into a bad one.
When traveling, there’s a lot of pressure to make the most of your trip and constantly be on the move. But if you need it, don’t be afraid to slow down and take a break. It’s OK to have some down time, particularly if that’s what you need to enjoy yourself. Remember that you aren’t wasting time by taking care of your needs.
Maintain Physical Health
There is a strong link between your physical and your mental health. To have a healthy body, you need a healthy mind, and vice versa. Keeping your body healthy during your travels is one of the easiest ways to keep your mind healthy too.
However, it can be difficult to maintain your normal health routine while traveling. Your sleep schedule may be off; you may not have the time or energy to do your usual workouts; and the local cuisine may be incredibly different from what you typically eat.
Try not to think of your trip as a disruption of your health habits, but as a way to adapt, change, and grow them into something new. You may discover that you enjoy an alternate way of doing things that you want to take home with you.
Though it’s important to take care of your body, it’s just as important to take care of your soul. Even if it’s a splurge — even if it’s not “good for you” — treat yourself to something every so often during your travels. It doesn’t have to be big; in fact, it can be as simple as taking yourself out for dessert after dinner when you normally wouldn’t or sleeping in a little later than usual.
Travel is meant to be an enjoyable experience. Don’t deprive yourself of any of that pleasure because you “shouldn’t” or another arbitrary reason. It’s okay to indulge! Let yourself enjoy what you want to, when you want to. You never know when you’ll have this opportunity again, so embrace it.
Maintaining mental health while you travel isn’t difficult, but it does take some time and conscious effort. Make the most of your travels by prioritizing your mental well-being. You owe it to yourself.
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