Are you looking to have the trip of your dreams with your mental health in optimum form?! Well, you’re in the right place. In this article, I will show you how to do just that.
As you may have read in my previous article, my bipolar disorder diagnosis has caused me to adjust how I go about my day-to-day life. I’ve developed new routines and habits to keep me healthy and episode free.
Then, when the world eventually returns to a semblance of normalcy, I’ll get to do what I love again – Travel. But the way I travel will change because of the new routines that are in place to help me cope with my condition.
And I’m not alone.
1 in 25 adults lives with a serious mental illness. That’s about 1 out of the average size of a public school classroom.
It means many people like me need to examine the way we do travel. Fortunately, it doesn’t mean an end to wanderlust; it just means we go about it a different way.
I’ve discovered three critical reasons why travel for me and others living with a mental illness can be tricky. But don’t worry! There are also seven key ways to combat them to have the trip of your dreams.
By the way, you don’t have to be mentally ill to benefit from these tips; they work for anyone trying to maintain mental and emotional stability while traveling.
Why Travel Is Challenging
Travel provokes anxiety.
Research has shown that traveling can cause anxiety in most people, which can be triggering for someone who has a mental illness.
Travel disrupts sleep patterns.
Often traveling involves crossing time zones, which could lead to lack of sleep and, again, induce a depressive episode, or worse, for someone like me.
Travel interrupts a routine.
As I mentioned, rituals and routines are essential for people who have a mental illness. They provide stability and a sense of peace. When you travel, you’re less likely to have that stable routine.
So, how do you avoid these triggers? Better yet, how do you ensure you optimize your travel experience?
Ways to Improve Your Travel Experience
Sleep is a big deal if you have a mental illness. It can mentally make or break you if you’re not careful. If you’re changing time zones, it’s wise to adjust your sleep schedule, before traveling, to align with the time zone you are going to – or get it as close as possible.
Book flights that align with your current schedule.
Consider the time you currently go to sleep and wake-up, then try to book flights that align with that schedule. Avoid flights with extended layovers and more stops, and opt for nonstops as much as possible.
Bring extra medication.
Treat mental illness as you would treat any disease, like diabetes. You always want to have extra dosages in case there is an emergency, and you end up spending additional days in your location (think flight delays and cancellations).
And if you’re traveling internationally, ensure your medication isn’t restricted or prohibited. You can do this by checking with the country’s embassy or the International Narcotics Control Board website.
Ask for help.
Having a to-do list before leaving for your trip is something most traveler’s experience. But it can be overwhelming to get your tasks done. Don’t be ashamed to enlist the help of a family member, friend, or significant other. That’s one less stressful thing on your plate.
Maintaining a workout routine while you travel not only keeps you energized, but is known to relieve stress, helps you sleep better, and boosts your overall mood.
Maintain a self-care routine.
The common theme throughout this article can boil down to one thing – an airtight routine. It’s crucial to aide in stabilizing your mood and just makes you feel good about yourself. Whether it’s meditating for a few minutes in the morning or reading a few bible scriptures at night, whatever gives you comfort, you should keep doing it even when you travel.
Plan in advance for what can go wrong.
Canceled flights, missing baggage, and changes in plans can throw a wrench in your mood and cause you to stress out. Having a go-to list of ways to defuse the tension you may be experiencing is key to getting through the worst that travel can offer. For instance, my go-to way to defuse my stress is to meditate. It immediately calms me and helps me not go into panic mode, thus avoiding a mood swing.
Traveling shouldn’t have to be a struggle if you’re mentally ill. It should be full of fun and adventure. Just remember to take care of yourself, and you can be on your way to the time of your life!
What ways do you try to take care of yourself while traveling?