Travelling can be stressful. You’re putting your body under a lot of pressure by changing climates and timezones, and you’re in new situations which demand new reactions.
Plus, you’ll probably spend at least some time in airport queues, which deserve a stress category all of their own.
While you might not be able to do all the things you’d normally do at home to de-stress, there are a few things you can do anywhere.
1. Take a deep breath.
Really, it’s one of the best things you can do. Close your eyes and count to ten while breathing deeply — in through your nose, out through your mouth.
It’s not always possible to go swimming or for a run, certainly, but you can almost always go for a walk. Even on a plane or train, or in a confined space, you can walk up and down or just on the spot. Star jumps are great for indoor exercise, but get outside if you can, and get as much sun as you can to get your vitamin D.
3. Treat yourself
Find something really small you can do to treat yourself — don’t spend too much (that might cause more stress), but something as little as an extra ten minutes in bed or a chocolate bar can really help. Or better, get your travelling companion to get something for you.
4. Think about the positive stuff
Don’t focus on what’s gone wrong, think about what’s gone right. More things go right than wrong, so why dwell on the negative? Think of five things that are good about today, even if they are tiny; at the moment, one of my small blessings is that we’re living near the sea. Just one glance out the window can help put me in a good mood.
5. Make a list
What exactly are you stressed about? Write it all down. Some things you will have control over, and others you won’t. Look at the items you don’t have control over, and say to yourself “I don’t have control over this, so why worry about it?” Then look at the items you do have control over. Put them in order of importance, and decide what you’re going to do about each thing. Make a decision about each item, even if it’s planning to think about it tomorrow.
6. Tell yourself the truth
This one’s a hard one to stomach at times. If something goes wrong and it’s your fault, you need to accept that, not stress about it. But remind yourself that you’re human and it’s human to make mistakes — even such terrible ones as the one you’ve made. Or if you’re worried about the future, tell yourself that you’re strong and capable and will be able to deal with the future when it comes. Find a mantra that works for you — I find “shit happens” to be really useful when things go wrong — because it’s true.
7. Spread the load
You can save a lot of travel stress by dividing up some of the tasks you have to do. Plan in advance to get as much done as possible, and — if you’re travelling with someone — share the jobs among the members of your party. In our case, Craig’s in charge of passports on travel days; I plan the route. This way one person doesn’t have all the task-related stress on their shoulders.
Travel stress doesn’t have to affect your trip – slow down and use these seven ways to de-stress on the road, and you’ll see and feel the difference.
This post was originally published as an article in 2009, and was recorded as a podcast in 2016.
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