It’s easy to forget about your mental health while you’re on vacation. Maybe you’re relaxing on the beaches of Jamaica or walking down the winding, cobblestone paths of small towns in Italy or cliff diving off the coast of Hawaii — and those distractions can keep you from practicing basic mental healthcare on trips. The truth is, your problems follow you everywhere, even on vacation in the most exquisite places in the world.
This summer, I’m traveling through Europe and Africa for three months with friends and family. I’m a little more than a month in, so I’d like to think I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks on maintaining mental healthcare while traveling. And I’d like to share them with you:
- Set boundaries. For yourself and with travel companions. It’s easy to overexert yourself on vacation. What do you need on a daily basis? I told my travel companions I need some time every morning to read the news and drink coffee. It’s simple enough, but it makes all the difference to start off the day with a strong cup of coffee and silence. For me, it’s what puts me in a mood to start the day strong.
- Get enough rest. One of my travel companions needs eight hours of sleep each night to function and be pleasant to be around. She told me this at the start of the trip and has been adamant about making sure we get enough rest. What I realized a few weeks in was that it’s essential that we all get enough rest. Traveling is exhausting and if we aren’t awake and ready to go, we can’t even enjoy the sights we’re seeing.
- Be active. You went on vacation to relax, right? But if you aren’t getting in some steps or any sort of activity, your body isn’t producing endorphins — and we all know the famous quote from “Legally Blonde.” Elle says, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.” Exercise is important, even just small amounts of it.
- Take time for yourself. Every few days, I wake up early, go to a coffee shop alone and journal or watch Netflix or read a book. That might look different for you, but it’s still important to take that much-needed alone time to reflect and recharge.
- Reflect on your adventures. Maybe that means making a list of all the things you’ve done and telling yourself, “Wow, I’m awesome.” I find I don’t realize how much I’ve done in a place until I’m leaving. When I write things down or just take time to reflect on everything I did, I feel a sense of gratefulness for the time I’ve had to travel.
Whether you’re traveling for a few days, a few weeks, or a few months, taking care of yourself is important. That looks different for everyone, but I hope what I’ve learned is applicable to your future travels!
Vanessa Daves is the marketing coordinator for Iris Telehealth.