Traveling, by its very nature, can disrupt your wellness routine and mental balance. Embrace change. Handle business, or see the sights – but take some time to stay mindful on your next trip. Self-care and TLC goes a long way to keep your mood high and your mindfulness Zen-tastic, even as you experience the inevitable travel stress.
Who knows best how to practice mindfulness and healthy travel? So-called digital nomads – people who make their living online while traveling the world. I talked to some frequent flyers to see how they maintained a positive attitude, as well as mental and physical health, during their long journeys. These tips work for staying healthy when traveling for business or for leisure.
Give yourself a time buffer
Entrepreneur Avi Loren Fox, who created the online shop Wild Mantle, spends much of her travel time looking for design inspiration. This means hopping from food markets to coworking spaces to coffee shop meetings with vendors – a hectic schedule in strange surroundings.
Fox credits her mental equilibrium by giving herself the gift of time.
Instead of crowding her schedule with meetings and networking and commuter flights, Fox builds in a buffer. “I arrive a little early at my destination before an appointment or meeting, so I have time to take a walk or soak in t my new surroundings,” Fox explains. To put this technique into action, plan ahead to give yourself some less-rigidly planned time. If you’re going on a business trip, spend an hour lounging at your hotel’s pool, or have breakfast by yourself in a local cafe, before heading to your business meeting. If you’re traveling for pleasure, don’t jump directly from work into a 10-hour train ride or scaling Mt. Fuji. Build in a day of low-key meandering or museum-going at the beginning and end of your trip, and alternate frenetic days with slower ones. (You might, for example, literally give yourself a few hours in a room via Breather.) With more time to observe your surroundings and calm travel stresses, you’ll enjoy the journey just as much as the destination.
You’ve probably heard by now about the wellness benefits of meditation, so it should be a no-brainer to add it to your mindfulness portfolio when you’re on the road. Whether it’s first thing in the morning before you catch a walking tour or right before you tuck yourself to sleep, even a few minutes meditating can do wonders. Not sure where to begin? Find a mantra that speaks to you and repeat it while you inhale and exhale deeply. Need more help? Download an app like Headspace, or incorporate meditation into your travel plans. For example, the Tibet House in New York City offers great guided meditation sessions on a weekly basis, along with a fascinating display of Tibetan art and cultural artifacts.
Yes, you know you’re supposed to drink water but being on the go makes it easy to forget. And when you’re visiting places where tap water is a no-go, it can be even harder to remember to get enough H20. Fox says drinking water does wonders for not only her body but her mind and energy levels when she chugs on the road. In fact, according to a study at the University of Connecticut’s Human Performance Laboratory, even mild dehydration can dampen your mood.
Since nearly all airports feature refillable water stations, bring a reusable water bottle in your backpack or carry-on, so you never have an excuse to skip the fountain. And though it might be hard to remember when you’re going for a pub crawl around San Diego with clients, Fox suggests the one-to-one rule, where you down a beer, you also finish a glass of good ‘old fashioned agua.
Splurge for a massage
If you need to take the fast track to stress relief, consider a massage. Wherever you go, massage is available – the market size for massage is $16 billion dollars in the United States alone. Massage doesn’t just help relieve pain by pressing on sore muscles -a professional massage releases endorphins and lowers adrenaline response – making you less stressed and clear-headed. Zeel is a great way to book a massage if your travels take you through one of 75 cities in the United States.
Disconnect from social media
Repeat after us: your loyal Instagram following will forgive you if you go off the grid for an afternoon or evening. Though it’s tempting to give an instant play-by-play of your adventures on the go, Fox says it can also be overwhelming to be connected 24/7 across several time zones. She suggests carving out some alone, non-electronic time. “It’s important to experience silence. When I travel by myself, or even if I am with others, I make sure I have some time to go off on my own without my phone or other technology,” she shares. Read a book or go sit in a local park. Whatever you do, don’t check Twitter or Facebook (Zeel excepted).
In addition to breaking up your constant screen time, giving yourself a much-needed break from social media may raise your spirits and your self-esteem. A recent study concluded that the more time you spend scrolling through your Facebook feed, the worse you feel about your life. So stealing away time to be in touch with your senses and your surroundings could do wonders for your mindfulness.