I don’t know about you but I have some pretty exciting plans for this summer. In fact, the last six months of the year are pretty jam packed for me.
I love travel more than pretty much anything else. If you go back to the start of this blog you can see just how important a part travel has played in my life. And I’ve travelled to some pretty wild places let me tell you.
So I never thought I’d be in the position where I have to actively manage my mental health to ensure I stay on track whilst travelling (surely everyone’s happy when they’re travelling right!?). But that is where I find myself now.
Because, no matter how much you love travel and how amazing the destination, take lack of sleep, irregular eating patterns, alcohol, illness and stress and you’ve got yourself an environment primed for depression to come creeping in.
Given my perpetual itchy feet and the fact that I am completely unwilling to give up on travel, I have had to learn how to manage my mental health whilst I’m away. So here are my best tips for keeping depression at bay whilst travelling.
Make Sure You Get Enough Sleep
It’s so difficult to get enough sleep when you are moving around a lot or out sampling the nightlife until the early hours. And that’s definitely not something you want to miss out on. But you also need to make sure you are getting enough sleep if you want to stay mentally healthy. Whether that’s factoring in a couple of later mornings or taking the occasional night off from partying.
Last year, me and Dom did the most epic road trip around Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro and Croatia. Given that we only had two weeks, we had a lot to cram in! We were on the move all the time and when we got to our destination, we wanted to go out and explore and often found ourselves in bars in the early hours.
But every few nights, we made sure to have a more relaxing one. Going out for an early dinner and then heading back to the hotel for some good sleep. Sounds boring I know. But we only had to do that a couple of evenings and it helped keep us refreshed and stopped us getting too exhausted, which would have made me much more susceptible to depression.
Drink Enough Water
Most people tend to drink more alcohol than normal when they are travelling and I am certainly not one to tell you not to do that. That would make me one hell of a hypocrite.
But when you’re drinking a lot of alcohol (which we all know is a depressant) and also not drinking enough water, you’re obviously going to start feeling a bit under the weather. Mentally and physically (hello hangover!)
If you can keep things to a more moderate level then great. But if you do overindulge, make sure you properly rehydrate. Drinking water is a very basic act of self care but it can have a genuinely big impact on your mental health.
I like travel to be as stress free as it can be. But unfortunately it can sometimes be difficult to eliminate stress completely, especially if I’m travelling somewhere with no fixed itinerary.
But even if you’re winging it, you can still try to plan ahead as much as possible to reduce the potential to feel stressed. Anything from packing in advance to making sure you have your holiday insurance sorted, your hire car, vaccinations. Anything that will make the trip easier.
Remember to Pack Your Medication
If you use medication to manage your mental health, remember to pack it and try setting a timer each day to remind you to take it regularly.
Stop Comparing Yourself to Other People
I’m saying this as much to myself as anyone else (serious body image issues over here). It’s important to stop comparing yourself to other people.
I have ruined so many holidays because I felt so crap about myself and spend the entire time wishing I looked better in a bikini. I remember crying in a beach bar in Thailand because I felt as though I looked disgusting next to everybody else. Crazy stuff.
We’re all guilty of the comparison game. But it is not going to enrich your holiday and it certainly won’t do anything good for your mental health.
READ MORE: How I Plan to Be Kind to My Body This Summer
Have Some Tricks up Your Sleeve
Even if you do everything above, you might still find yourself exhausted and more fragile than normal. Pay attention to how you are feeling mentally and take steps to look after yourself if your mental health starts to suffer.
Everyone has different methods of managing depression, but having a few little tricks up your sleeve for if you start to feel unwell means you are more prepared should that happen.
I like to make sure I have the Headspace app installed so I can do a quick ten minutes of meditation if things start to get a little too much. That and a good playlist and some uplifting podcasts to listen to when I need to zone out.
And for the most important part. Have fun!
If you are suffering from depression, life can feel like a bit of a slog and the pressure of everyday life can start to weight you down. Use this as an opportunity to leave everything behind for a few weeks and focus on just having a good time. A rare opportunity to indulge in some solid self care time.