Six ways to take care of your mental health while traveling abroad

Tears streamed down my sweaty face as I sat on the side of the dusty, sun-scorched road in Puerto Escondido, Mexico. I couldn’t find my hostel, had no data on my phone, and my laptop was broken. My back ached from my heavy backpack. I felt like giving up and going home.

For the seasoned traveler, this scenario isn’t so strange. Living the dream requires care and balance for it to be sustainable.

While traveling abroad can be incredibly enriching, traveling—especially long-term as a digital nomad—can lead to overstimulation and wear on your mental health and wellbeing without the proper considerations.

Amidst the excitement and constant movement, prioritizing your mental health as part of your travels will help you enjoy your experiences even more. As someone who has been traveling the world for over a year, visiting numerous countries and world wonders, I’ve come to understand the significance of maintaining emotional well-being while on the go. Here, I will share six simple yet effective ways which helped me to keep my mental health intact while traveling abroad.

1. Establish a routine

First and foremost, establish a nourishing routine. While the allure of spontaneity is part of the charm of traveling, having a basic structure to your day can provide a sense of stability and comfort. Set aside time for non-negotiable self-care activities such as meditation, exercise, or journaling. Engaging in these practices can help you stay grounded and connected with yourself, even in unfamiliar surroundings.

2. Stay connected with loved ones

Another easy way to feel balanced on your travels is to connect with loved ones. Traveling can sometimes make you feel isolated, especially if you’re far away from your support system. Make an effort to regularly communicate with family and friends back home through video calls, emails, or social media.

3. Take regular breaks

I like to take breaks from constant movement and exploration during every trip. Traveling can be physically and mentally demanding, so it’s crucial to listen to your body and give yourself permission to rest even if it means missing out on something you “should” see. Allow yourself to indulge in leisure activities that bring you joy and relaxation. Whether it’s reading a book, strolling through a local park, or enjoying a spa day, these moments of rejuvenation will contribute to your overall well-being. For me, my favorite way to travel is to live like a local at that culture’s (usually slower) pace of life.

4. Maintain a healthy diet

While experiencing new cultures and cuisines is an exciting part of traveling, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is equally important. Be mindful of your diet and make an effort to consume nutritious meals. Stay hydrated, get enough sleep, and avoid excessive alcohol or substance consumption. Taking care of your physical health can have a positive impact on your mental state, allowing you to fully enjoy your travel experiences without getting sick.

5. Self-reflection time

Seek out opportunities for self-reflection. Traveling can provide a unique space for introspection and self-discovery. Take time to connect with your thoughts and emotions, and be open to learning from the diverse cultures and perspectives you encounter. Embracing these opportunities can enhance your travel experience and contribute to your mental well-being.

6. Find help and support

Lastly, don’t hesitate to seek professional help if needed. As a digital nomad, finding therapy while abroad can be a challenge, but it’s not impossible. Research online counseling services or local therapists who offer sessions in your destination. You can also work with a mentor or coach. Remember that prioritizing your mental health is essential, and seeking support when necessary is a sign of strength.

Caring for your mental and emotional wellbeing while traveling abroad is crucial for a fulfilling and balanced experience. Establish a routine, stay connected with loved ones, take breaks, maintain a healthy lifestyle, embrace self-reflection, and seek professional help if needed. By implementing these simple strategies, you can ensure that your travel adventures are not only exciting but also mentally nourishing.

Happy travels!

Written by

  • Elisa Bozmarova

    Elisa Bozmarova is an award-winning writer, meditation teacher, and founder of the wellness-based business, Bigsister. Her work has appeared in Business Insider, SFGATE, The Common, and elsewhere.

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