Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage. Anaïs Nin (1903-1977)
Yes, a certain amount of courage is required to travel, not to say courage is certainly needed! Leaving my comfort zone to explore a new world without knowing where I would sleep, what I would eat nor how I would get around without speaking the language, is something that creates anxiety for most people. When traveling, less preparation equals more stress!
Even after several years of travels, before every departure to a new place, I still feel anxiety in the face of the unknown. With time, I learned to predict and manage stress, one step at a time, throughout my trip.
Here are some anti-stress ideas to help you take care of yourself when traveling.
Leaving the daily routine is a great step outside one’s comfort zone and it is important to acknowledge the internal torment provoked by this. Under all circumstances, it is extremely good to take the time to reconnect with one’s self and to ask ourselves what is good for us and what are our limits. Do I truly want to participate in this excursion? Do I feel comfortable in this hostel or with this host? Can I keep walking or do I need a break? Trust me, learning to value your internal yes and no is one of the best gifts you can give yourself.
Often, we face situations that are not aligned with our values, whether we are traveling or during our normal daily lives. For example, if you are a woman traveling alone, men could hit on you (from a stolen kiss to a forced kiss, with wandering hands or exhibition). It could also be an invitation from friends to do something you are not interested in (an expedition, an outing, a risky situation, consuming drugs, etc.) What can you do? Personally, I take the time to fully ground myself, to go within and to strengthen my spirituality. I anchor myself softly into who I am and I dare to stand up for what makes most sense to me. I name what is good for me, I stop what is not.”Stop, I don’t feel like sleeping with you.” “No, I will not go with you tonight, I feel like reading a book and going to bed early” “Thank you for the invitation, but I am not interested.”
I assure you that if you learn to honor your limits by naming them (to yourself and others), your stress levels will diminish and your confidence will increase.
Whether you have to select a place to sleep, a restaurant, a departure time, have an invitation to accept or refuse, or even need to decide to turn left or right, it is important to learn to trust yourself at all times. Something inside you “knows”, feels. There is an intuition available to guide you in your choices. Maybe you can already hear it, that’s great! Otherwise, I invite you to sit quietly more often, taking the time you need to make decisions; connecting yourself with the part of you that knows, questioning it. Listen to every part of your body and everything that surrounds you.
A journal can be useful in so many ways: to collect train tickets and photos from flyers, welcome your thoughts, emotions and experiences, or simply a reason to claim some time for yourself in a crowded place, where it is difficult to be at ease. A journal is a silent witness, welcoming unconditionally what you are experiencing from a long day heavy with emotions, a need for a review of events, to release puzzling experiences or to simply celebrate the beauty of your adventures. Take advantage of this wonderful ally. Click here (coming soon) to learn more about how I use the journal for traveling.
Although you probably never truly will be alone on a trip, you can feel a deeper sense of loneliness. In fact, if you are solo, no one knows you, your story, your talents and your fears truly. Even if you can’t use your phone’s plan, you can still use Facebook Messenger to message your loved ones and receive instant responses, you can also make calls and video calls for free!
Yes, from time to time, it’s good to treat yourself. It can help reduce your stress, trust me! Whether you are getting yourself a night at a hotel, a hot chocolate, a dream excursion, a day doing nothing, a useless (but meaningful) souvenir or a good meal at a restaurant, by offering yourself luxuries, you honor the person that you are and show your subconscious that you have value.
To me, this is THE ultimate tip to reduce stress while traveling. Imagine that you welcome, honor and respect all that you are: your desires, your wishes, your strengths, your limits, your dreams… How would you feel? Imagine for a moment that this little voice saying “be reasonable”, “push yourself a little”, “Eh you! Forget a meal at that price! Even if it’s what you’ve been craving since you got here, you can find it cheaper elsewhere!”, “you can’t do it”, “you are too soft for that”, etc… So imagine that voice inside your head is quiet and simply lets you be. That all of a sudden you see your strengths, your limits and desires as perfect. Well believe me, suddenly there is a lot less weight on your shoulders and you feel a lot less stressed too.
You like these tips, but you have difficulty understanding how to apply them concretely during your trip? Click here (coming soon in English) for a list of ideas.
Wishing you safe and light travels
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Dans ce livre, certains reconnaîtront leur sortie du placard, d'autres une séparation importante, et d’autres encore leur entrée dans le monde adulte.
J’y partage mon histoire, un témoignage authentique parsemé d’exercices pour vous aider à trouver votre propre étoile du Nord.
Mélanie Gagné, psychosociologue