Journey to Inner Balance: Nurturing Your Mental Health While Traveling

Traveling offers a unique opportunity to explore new places, experience different cultures, and create unforgettable memories. This can hold true even when on a business trip if you make the effort! However, amidst the excitement and adventure, it’s crucial not to overlook the importance of nurturing your mental health. Traveling can sometimes disrupt our routines and expose us to unfamiliar challenges. These disruptions can make for a harder time staying on point with our fitness and health goals, so it’s important to address the impact it has on us, especially traveling. We’ll explore practical strategies and empowering tips to help you maintain inner balance and prioritize your mental well-being while embarking on your travel journey. Who knows… these could lead to a more stable routine on the home court as well.

Embrace Mindfulness:

Incorporate mindfulness practices into your travel routine to stay present and connected with your surroundings. Take moments to appreciate the beauty around you, whether it’s a breathtaking landscape, a bustling city street, or the sounds of nature (or even the sweet site of 1 ton rocks getting pulverized in an instant, if you’re in one of those fields of work like me!). Engage in mindful breathing exercises or meditation to calm your mind and reduce stress. This can be done behind the scenes from when interacting with customers. I know that business trips don’t offer as much time to engage in beauty appreciation, but mindfulness can be practiced all day every day. Appreciate that you are away from your computer, engaging with new people, that your company is paying you to experience this! You don’t have to lock down in full meditation mode in front of a client to have this appreciation!

Create a Self-Care Toolkit:

Pack a self-care toolkit to support your mental well-being on the road. Include items that bring you comfort, such as your favorite book, essential oils, a journal for reflection, or soothing music. These tools can provide a sense of familiarity and offer a respite when you need a moment of tranquility. If traveling by plane, this is the best place to get in some excellent reading and writing time. Instead of opting for that 3 hour movie, spend some time getting yourself mentally fit! Meditation on the plane is even possible, as many airlines carry a meditation service in their entertainment, or at least a music station that hosts some peaceful meditation-like tracks. I can tell you that this has changed my travel game immensely. I used to catch a flick and fight with the internal pull of “I should be working but I’m watching a movie”. Some people get a complete relaxation out of a movie, so I’m not saying scratch that completely. For me though, I feel amazing when I’m working on myself during some downtime from work emails flooding in by the minute!

Maintain a Balanced Schedule:

While it’s tempting to fill your itinerary with numerous activities, remember to prioritize rest and downtime. Avoid overcommitting and give yourself the freedom to relax and recharge. Engage in activities that bring you joy and align with your interests. Balancing exploration with restorative moments allows you to maintain a sense of equilibrium throughout your travels. When on business, you’ll have days when you are done with the client for the work day, but a dinner or happy hour is to follow. Buy yourself some time by asking to meet up a little later than immediately after. Most are understanding, as many have families and other needs to take care of. The easiest excuse is to say you have a few important emails to attend to. Then use that time as a chance to get in a quick room workout or stretch, read, write, or just close your eyes and reflect on what you appreciate about what the day brought.

Connect with Nature:

Spending time in nature has a profound impact on our mental well-being. Seek opportunities to immerse yourself in natural environments during your travels. Likely, a hike in the mountains, a stroll along the beach, or a visit to a serene park will not be on the agenda for your work travel. Though connecting with nature can provide solace, reduce stress, and foster a sense of inner peace, a traveler should not consider only these wondrous scenes as the only place to connect with nature. There may be a local city park that has plenty of trees. Or there might be a trail that you can stroll for a little while. I find that I get exponentially less outdoor time when I’m traveling, whether it be because of being in a plane or car, or inside a client’s office all day. Because I know the risk of potentially being stuck inside all day, I make this a priority for my down time. Maybe it’s 15 minutes at lunch, when again you’re “checking emails”. Then some time between the work day and your meal, get outside. If you haven’t gotten your workout done, find some space outside and do one of our bodyweight, limited equipment workouts and knock out two things at once (LINK to Workouts)!

Stay Connected with Loved Ones:

Traveling can sometimes feel isolating, especially when you’re away from friends and family. Make an effort to stay connected with your loved ones through phone calls, video chats, or sharing your experiences through social media. Maintaining these connections can provide a sense of belonging and support, enhancing your overall well-being. My dad traveled a bit when I was young, and growing up in the 90’s, his greatest pieces of technology were his pager and corded car phone. Therefore, we just waited for him to get home to get to experience him some more. I don’t know what that may have done to his mental health! We are lucky to live in the age of being able to video chat our kids and see the fun milestones they may be reaching with relatively no effort. Utilize this! Like the last tip, maybe you combine a chat with a loved one while taking a walk outside in nature! Your mind will thank you!

Practice Self-Compassion:

Be kind to yourself and practice self-compassion while traveling. Embrace the imperfections, adapt to unexpected challenges, and let go of unrealistic expectations. Accept that not every moment will be perfect, and it’s okay to ask for help or take breaks when needed. Treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding you would extend to a friend. Like we’ve talked about in other articles, sometimes we just need a rest day or two while traveling. You’ve been killing it in the gym up until the trip, and so a couple days of rest can be OK. Don’t stress your mind out to think you need those 50 burpees! Remember, if you are mentally not in it, you open yourself up to burn out and/or injury. Have a plan, but know that it’s OK to deter. You have a strong work ethic and shouldn’t have to worry about this being a slippery slope!

Reflect and Journal:

Allocate time for reflection and journaling during your journey. Capture your thoughts, emotions, and experiences in a journal. Reflecting on your adventures can help you gain insights, process your feelings, and foster personal growth. It also provides a meaningful keepsake of your travel memories. As I mentioned in our note on the self-care toolkit, I love my journal reflection while on the plane. For me, I am my most creative, because all of my devices are on airplane mode, and I’m doing something new. I have spurred many strong ideas and connections to other reflections that have helped spur my career and personal journey.

Traveling offers more than just external exploration—it provides an opportunity for inner growth and self-discovery. Nurturing your mental health while traveling is vital to ensure a fulfilling and transformative experience, and keep you on your path to being fit. By embracing mindfulness, practicing self-care, staying connected, and engaging in meaningful experiences, you can embark on a journey to inner balance, fostering well-being and creating lifelong memories that extend far beyond your travel adventures. Remember, the most remarkable journey begins within.

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