Traveling is one of the easiest ways to kick exhaustion and poor mental health into high gear. Whether we’re traveling for work or play, it can have an impact on our mental health. Often times it creeps up when we least think about it. Then BAM! It hits all at once. Here are 5 ways to care for your mental health while traveling.
Take a nap
It may seem obvious, but taking a nap is super important when you are traveling. If you’re flying, jet lag is a very real thing. According to Cleveland Clinic, “Jet lag is a common but short-lived sleep problem you can get after traveling across more than two time zones. Jet lag can make you feel out of sorts due to an abrupt change in your body’s internal clock or circadian sleep rhythms. Symptoms include headaches and difficulty sleeping (insomnia).” Yikes. Just reading that makes me want to take a nap.
I’m writing this as I sit on my flight from Ohio to New York City. I know myself well enough to know I don’t like taking naps. I like staying productive so it’s hard for me to slow down but I know I will need a nap if I have any chance at protecting my mental health.
Our bodies are used to the routines we create and they require rest to reccooperate once we’re out of routine. This also includes rest for our minds. If you’re traveling any time soon, make sure you set aside time to get a nap in.
Take a break
Traveling can be super exciting whether it’s for work or play. Its an opportunity to escape our daily reality and do something different for a change. The excitement of being on the go comes with all sorts of opportunities to keep us busy. But this is where trouble sneaks in with our mental health. No one is built to be in go-mode 24/7, even while traveling. Taking a break is critical to care for your mental health while traveling.
So, what does this look like? It might mean laying by a pool instead of going to out to eat for the third day in a row. It could also look like cozying up in bed with a good book. No matter what it is, make sure you’re in a place where you will not have to be active.
Here are some ideas:
- Find a space to yourself where you can relax and meditate or listen to music
- Lay out by a pool or ocean and listen to the waves
- Cancel morning plans and sleep in an extra hour
- Order food in for the evening instead of going out (you’ll also save money)
Eat healthy meals to care for your mental health while traveling
Are you rolling your eyes yet? I know, there is temptation all around to eat poorly while traveling. But this is extra important for our mental health. Food not only fuels your body, but also your mind. It has a direct impact to good or bad mental health. 70% of your seratonin lives in your gut so providing it with meals that promote healthy choices is extra important.
Leafy green vegetables
Chicken or fish
Oats, nuts, and beans
Stick to your normal at home routine as much as possible
Go to bed around the same time as you do at home
Don’t skip any vitamins or supplements while you’re traveling
Eat meals around the same time as you do at home
Find ways to exercise