Mental health is a significant component in taking care of our humans self. In 2018 47.6 million people in the United States experienced mental illness. That’s just people with a mental illness, not including those who just experience pitfalls in their mental health. It doesn’t matter if you’re traveling or not, you have to take care of your emotional self. Trust me, I know how hard that can be. It took me years (and many crisis and mental breakdowns) to truly understand how complex taking care of my emotions and mind can be. With that in mind, I decided to to compose a list of suggestions on how to take care of your mental health based on what I have learned (and these tips can also be done (and are encouraged to do) while traveling).
*disclaimer: I am not in any way a mental health professional, this suggestion is only based on my experiences and what has helped me and those around me*
- Sleep: I cannot stress how important sleep hygiene is. Ya know when you’re traveling and haven’t properly slept in 34 hours and you are way too cranky. In contrast to that, I have found sleeping too much can lower my mood. For me, getting around 6-8 hours a sleep or taking a 90 minute nap helps keep me from losing my sh*t most days.
- Hygiene: I can already feel some of you cringing that I put hygiene on the list, but It’s huge. Ya know when you have been traveling for days and you are feeling super tired and just skip your routine. It can make you feel worse (truly). Or if you’re just feeling low and don’t have the energy to take that nightly shower, do it anyway. Travel tip: Keep your tooth brush on your carry on and brush your teeth after your in-flight meals and it can keep ya feeling fresh Keeping up with your hygiene routine can keep you from slipping into a bad mood.
- Alone Time: I know, I know some people are super extroverted and get their energy from spending time with other people. However, I still think it’s good to spend some time alone and be reflective about your life and your day. For me, personally, the few hours when I first wake up in the morning and before I go to bed at night are my favorite times to be alone and just explore my thoughts and interactions throughout the day. BUT, if you have anxiety, it can also limit the amount of time you are thinking, so it can maybe keep ya from over taking.
- Move your body: YES, moving your body is just as important as all the experts say. Take a stroll through the park. Go to a yoga class or just dance to a few of your favorite songs in the bathroom. Just get your blood flowing.
- Hydrate: I know I sound like a mom with this, but seriously. If I don’t drink enough water, I just feel off and get a major headache. Not a good time.
- Don’t complain: I know that’s a hard one because our society does it sometimes to make small talk. I also understand that there is a fine line between venting and complaining. I have just had to learn to be mindful when I vent so I don’t spill my negativity on others.
- Boundaries: Ugh, I didn’t want to add this one, because of my own guilt and shame….. but I know how serious it is. I am working on this one. I have never been the best at setting boundaries, I used to over apologize and say yes to every social outing because I felt like I had too. However, years later I have learned that I have to reserve my energy. Opposite to that, I have took too much energy and drained others by ignoring some peoples boundaries by at different points in my life (I’m human and make mistakes at times too). So be mindful about what you allow in your life and what you take from others.
- Create: Whatever your thing is (or whatever you want it to be), use it as a creative outlet. Write, draw, paint, dance, make music, whatever your creative outlet is, take the time to do it often. Even if you feel like it sucks, you need it. It heals apart of your soul.
- Take time away from electronics: I don’t care if it’s your phone, laptop, or TV….we can probably all agree that too much of that blue screen time can have us feeling exhausted. I know I go through periods of time when I do not need to look at a screen becauseI just feel so drained. Sometimes it may even be comparing yourself on social media. Whatever it is, know when you need to take a break and reconnect to reality.
I know these tips may not seem like much and may come off as basic. However, sometimes simple is best. Over complicating stuff just makes things, well, more complicated. I hope someone finds some use of these suggestions. Don’t @ me if they don’t work for you. We are all complex beings and you have to use trial and error to see what works for you.
And while this is a blog, I encourage anyone struggling with mental health issues to reach out (heck even if it’s in the comments and you find someone to connect with). You’re not alone, most of us have struggled or are struggling.
Leave some comments about what helps you keep your mental health in tack.