10 Ways To Stop Stress When You Travel
Traveling isn’t all about lying under a palm tree sipping from a dirt-cheap Cocktail on the beach. Yeah OK, a big part of it is :p – but traveling is also a hectic lifestyle full of stress, both physically and mentally.
My body really took a toll on me during my first 8 month RTW trip last year, and it didn’t take long until I realized that I needed to do some serious changes in the way I traveled, if I wanted to continue enjoying it.
Here are 10 changes I made to my traveling lifestyle which really helped me to enjoy the moments:
1. Simplify Your Travel To-Do List – a To-Do List is a list of things you want to do in the place you’re visiting, something that is supposed to be fun, not something you need to do in order to feel content and satisfied with your trip. But often this list of fun stuff can easily turn into a Must- Do list which normally ends up equaling stress.
It’s easy to get caught up with the list, feeling that the trip won’t be “good enough” if you don’t do everything you’ve planned.
All of a sudden I found myself rushing and stressing while obsessively ticking off my To-Do list, not actually enjoying myself at all.
Seeing, doing and experiencing new things is supposed to be something fun, not something you’re stressing out about. If you’re stressed, you won’t enjoy any of it and it’s just a waste of time, money and effort.
So I started to limit my travel To-Do list and just chose a few things that I REALLY wanted to do, and that helped me a lot. If you find that you have lots of time over for other things, then that’s fine – but take your time and enjoy yourself - let there be a gap for spontaneity, because that’s when you really get some crazy adventures on your trip!
2. Set Up Routines – No matter how much you like adventure, action and uncertainty, we all need some routines in order to feel good. I found that making a routine for small things such as specific times when to eat breakfast and lunch made a big difference. Your body loves routines. Try to go to bed and wake up the same time everyday, soon you won’t have to set your alarm, as your body will know naturally when to get up.
3. Slow Down - Deadlines to get from point A to point B often force you to speed up the tempo of your body, and once you’re in that fast speed you get used to it and that tempo begins to feels normal. But it’s not until you slow down that you realize how stressful it actually was. When it’s possible, learn how to slow your body down.
It’s OK if you choose to stay at a place doing nothing for a longer time. Nothing will happen, you’re not going to miss out on anything. Just slow your pace and learn to enjoy the moment – then the stress will simply wash away.
4. Plan – But Don’t Overdo It - Planning can be great for reducing stress. For example planning a few days before how and when to get to the airport will save you a lot of stress and anxiousness. By not planning you might realize the same morning your flight leaves that your hotel doesn’t drive you to the airport, so check those kinds of details – so you don’t find yourself at the last minute running to the flight gate. It’s such an unnecessary thing that creates too much stress, and that extra hour you spend in the city instead of waiting on an airport really isn’t worth the possible stress – I learned that pretty quickly
However by over-planning you can actually create even more stress because you will keep thinking about the future, about what you’re going to do next, and trying to stick with the schedule. Try to find a nice balance between these two.
5. Don’t Try To Control The Uncontrollable – There is no use worrying about something you can’t control anyway. Accept whatever happens and deal with it the best way you can. By trying to control something or react to something you can’t do anything about – you’re just stressing yourself out for no reason and nothing will get better that way. Instead ask yourself if there is anything you can do about it, if not, then accept it and let it go.
This is something I had to practice for a while, but when I started learning how to deal with it, everything suddenly had a complete different flow, and I was actually happier.
6. Learn To Get Over It And Forgive – OK you got tricked and payed overprice at the street market, or something didn’t quite turn out the way you expected it – Get over it fast! Going on and on regretting and complaining about something you can’t change just make things worse. Don’t beat yourself up about things you do, learn to forgive yourself and travel partner for making stupid mistakes.
What’s done is done, learn from your mistake but don’t go on nagging about it, nobody wants to hang around a party-pooper.
If not for others sake but your own, beating yourself up about something you did will get you stressed and feeling insecure, which is like the worst thing you can do when traveling. If you’re insecure about yourself and don’t trust your actions, you’ll do best returning home.
Besides, many things that look dark at the moment, will be a funny memory sooner than you think. It’s often the mistakes we tend to laugh about the most afterwards, and those are usually the ones people want to hear about as well.
7. Eat Healthy – A crappy diet is never good, but especially not when traveling. With so many new things around you, your body gets very easily tense, weak and eating crappy food gets you clogged up faster, opening you up for sickness. Stress and a bad diet often equals constipation or diarrhea, amongst other things.
8. Create Your Own *Me-Time* Space - Make time for your own ‘me-time’. Take some time and just hang out with yourself. Traveling in groups or as a couple is a lot of fun, but some quality time with yourself is important, it’s easy to forget about yourself when traveling.
By taking some time to listen to your mind you’ll find out how you really feel. Often we don’t hear ourselves and don’t understand that we’re stressed until our body just collapses on us, or until we take it out on our travel partners.
I noticed that when I traveled with friends or with Nathan, we all needed that time for ourselves, and when we didn’t have it, we were fighting a lot more.
9. Be Aware Of Changes Within Your Body – I don’t want to make you all paranoid, but in order to ‘heal’ yourself you first have to be able to recognize problems when they come up. If you notice something different, don’t shake it off right away. I don’t mean to get all worked up for no reason, but analyze it a bit, try to remember when it started and if there are any connections to it, you might be losing all that hair because of stress.
Here is a list of typical stress symptoms to be aware of:
- Weakened immune system
- Irregular periods
- Digestive problems
- Sleep problems
- Suddenly very short tempered
- Nerve twitches
- Skin conditions such as acne and eczema
- Colds and sinus infections
- Inflammatory illness such as urine infections
(Please don’t get all paranoid on me now guys, because this isn’t always true, its simply about becoming more aware. You might be the most relaxed dude on the beach but still be the only one with diarrhea….)
10. Find The Time To Exercise – Experts say that the best way to manage stress is through exercise. It relaxes the mind and body and increases energy. It helps you sleep better, gets rid of toxins in your body and can actually make you happier. Exercising causes the release of chemicals called endorphins into your blood stream. These give you a feeling of happiness and affect your well-being!
Exercising when traveling can be tough, sometimes the circumstances makes it difficult.
Unless you’re Hulk Hogan himself you don’t really want to do a bunch of sit ups and push ups in a 14 bed dorm with everyone watching you. There are however sneaky ways of exercising without anybody noticing it (a post about this coming soon!).
I would love you guys to also share some stories about your most stressful moments and how you dealt with them while on the road?