Wondering how to deal with stress while traveling? The truth is, it’s not a one-size-fits-all proposition, but there are a few (non-traditional) things that really help!
It’s no secret that I’ve dealt with my fair share of stress since starting my journey of full-time travel. I’m a Type A, high-tension former attorney, so it’s no wonder I have a hard time calming my brain down.
Traveling is wonderful in a lot of ways – for me, the most important way is that it’s immensely freeing. I can do whatever I want whenever I want. This also ends up being a huge negative: I realized I like having a bit of structure and it’s harder to maintain that structure when your environment is always changing.
In the interest of maintaining my sanity (which is tested on a very regular basis when traveling full-time and thinking about things like fitness, friends, and money), I’ve developed a few particular strategies to keep sane. These aren’t just relevant to a life of full-time travel, though, they are relevant to any kind of travels.
Keep in mind: some of these tips are like the trite (yet effective) advice you’ll hear other places. But some of them are pure fucking genius.
I’ve spoken before about my use of Hal Elrod’s Miracle Morning method, and the inclusion of meditation. People constantly talk about meditation because it works – no question about it. But meditation doesn’t have to mean sitting perfectly still with your legs crossed on a soft mat in the middle of a peaceful room. Meditation can be as simple as shutting your eyes for a few minutes and just letting your brain be still. Whatever small amount of time you have to devote to it, do it.
2. Don’t neglect physical exercise.
I know – it’s more advice you don’t want to hear unless you are a workout junkie, but the truth is – you have to work out. You have to. Give yourself some time to bitch, cruise Twitter once or twice and then get your ass to the gym or outdoors. It’s not about being thin. It’s not even necessarily about being fit. It’s about the way physical exercise will affect your mental well-being. Just do it. Just DO it.
Did you know that if you feel fatigued, with a headache and exhaustion, you may just be missing some water? It’s true: all of the symptoms I just mentioned can be caused by just some mild dehydration. It’s crazy how crappy you can feel just by not drinking enough water. Somewhere on my U.S. road trip, I realized that I wasn’t feeling super well and I started drinking a full glass of water first thing every morning. It doesn’t sound like much, but it helped me start the day right and kept me drinking water all day.
4. Occasionally, tell people to fuck off.
This is some advice you probably won’t find in those “let’s all love each and be stress-free” websites and magazines. Occasionally, you’re going to need to tell people to fuck off. It’s just a fact. People can be annoying, and while you’re traveling full-time, you’ll often find yourself in situations where people treat you like garbage, for some reason. Whether it’s a company representative that has kept you on hold for over three hours when you’re stranded in a city because of a mistake they made or a frienemy from home making snide comments about your new life. Sometimes, people are great. And sometimes, they deserve to be told to fuck off. So tell them.
5. Do some drugs.
Do you ever notice how it’s perfectly acceptable to joke about drinking wine at the end of a long day – like it’s not also an actual drug that can impact you negatively in a lot of ways – but it’s not acceptable to joke about doing other drugs? Now, I’m not advocating you go out and do some heroin (really – don’t do that, ever) but I am advocating you find your own drug. Maybe it’s an actual drug in a state where that drug is legal. Maybe it’s just an activity that you love – like running or cooking or reading. Don’t get addicted if it is an actual drug, but for fuck’s sake give yourself something more than stereotypical alcohol. Fuck the advice about unwinding with a glass of wine – go find your drug.
6. Create small rituals you can maintain over time.
Traveling full-time means you won’t be able to create big rituals for yourself. Things like going to your favorite coffee shop down the road or eating lunch with your colleagues every day. But don’t lose the comfort of rituals completely: create small rituals that you can do anywhere. Maybe it’s just traveling with your favorite tea and travel mug and drinking it every morning. Maybe it’s even just watching the same show on your smartphone on Netflix once a month. Whatever it is, find something small that works for you and keeps you sane.
7. Avoid the news sometimes.
I love being informed and I think it’s important that we all stay informed about the world around us. That said, sometimes people are fucking awful. And they do awful things. Sometimes, to stay sane, the only thing you can do is shut off NPR, pop on some Justin Bieber and forget the world.
So these are my methods of staying relatively low-stress. They may not work for everyone. But try some of my strategies – I guarantee you’ll be glad you did.
What are some unusual things you do to de-stress?