Solo travel is supposed to be a phenomenal activity. Some people even swear that it is a providential escape from every day worries. Unfortunately, depression doesn’t quite work that way.
If you suffer from depressive episodes when you are home, it does not magically disappear when you pack your bags and enter new territory, no matter how lovely or lively the destination may be. In some cases, especially when you are solo traveling, it could worsen since you are in unfamiliar spaces without the sweet comfort of close friends and family.
Below are some tips to help you cope better when you are solo and feeling blue while on the road.
1. Develop A Daily Routine
Traveling may call for spontaneity and adventure. However, some aspects of it require some predictability. For a depressed mind, simple tasks like getting out of bed to see a new city or showering feel like monstrous tasks. A great way to get yourself up and going is to develop an easy, sustainable daily routine that you can incorporate both when you are traveling and when you are not. For example, every morning when you wake up, partaking in a few minutes of controlled breathing and some light yoga while you are still in bed. Simple but effective.
2. Get Your Body Moving
It is a well-known fact that exercise is good for the body, but the last thing on a depressed person’s mind is exercise, more so when in unfamiliar territories. However, regularly engaging your body has considerable benefits that go far beyond placebo. When you engage your body in movement, your brain activates the happy neurotransmitters, dopamine, and serotonin. So as counter-intuitive as it may sound, you need to try to get your body moving. It need not be high-intensity exercises like running around the block. A simple 5-min brisk walk around your hotel is good enough. Just ensure that you get your body moving daily.
3. Soak Up Some Sun
Sunlight has immense power. It is essential for two main reasons. The most obvious one is what’s commonly referred to as the “sunshine vitamin.” When you expose your skin to the sun, the UVB radiation from the sun turns cholesterol from the skin’s surface into Vitamin D. This vital vitamin assists in the regulation of hormones such as testosterone, which affects the mood in both men and women. Secondly, the sun is responsible for setting the body’s circadian rhythm, which is essential for better sleep patterns. It sets you up to feel tired at the right time and energized at the right time. If you can’t make it outside, consider opening up the blinds in your hotel room every morning and sitting outside for breakfast to get in some much-needed sun time.
4. Remember To Eat Healthily
The adage “you are what you eat” has never been more accurate. What you eat affects every part of your body, including your brain. Eating regular, well-balanced, healthy meals filled with green leafy vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats, and carbohydrates is gold for your brain. So even though you’re traveling, you need to be more conscious of what goes into your body. For instance, instead of having English breakfast for every breakfast, swap it for some Greek yogurt, muesli, and some fruits or carry supplements such as Omega 3, which are essential for brain power.
5. Lay Off The Drugs And Alcohol
Most people turn to drugs or alcohol when they’re feeling down or lonely to make them feel better. But if there is one thing that all mental health professionals agree on is that you should avoid alcohol and drugs when you’re depressed, especially when on medication as it can contradict with the drugs leading to dire consequences.
6. Hit The Snooze Button
Lack of proper sleep is both a precursor and a consequence of depression. Inadequate amount of sleep profoundly affects your outlook of life as well as how your body functions and at the same time, when you are depressed, negative thoughts of guilt and worthlessness stubbornly linger, preventing you from sleeping. The standard recommended amount of sleep for the average human is 7 to 8 hours per day. Good sleep will leave you well rested and able to function optimally. To increase your chances of getting better sleep when depressed, avoid the use of electronics at least one hour before bed and fill your day with activities to get you tired enough to sleep.
7. Talk About It
It is not easy to talk about depression. It’s especially true for men who are not expected to talk about their feelings for fear of being emasculated. But, it is always better to talk about it than keep it a secret to yourself as it will eat you up to pieces. You don’t have to shout it out to the whole world. You can talk about it with people you trust: your friends, family, or professionals. And thanks to technology, they are only a call, a message, or a Skype away. If they are not within your reach, journal and write it all down; how you feel, everything, just let it all out.
8. Be Kind To Yourself
Although it might be hard, remember to shower yourself with some self-love. You need to own the reality that depression is an illness and how you feel isn’t your fault. You’re not guilty of ungratefulness, and what you’re going through is temporary, and you cannot just simply get over it by adjusting your attitude.
Life is a journey of ups and downs. Some of the downs are depressive episodes, which almost everyone is prone to. You are not alone so don’t be too hard on yourself when your travels don’t go as planned. As simple as these strategies may seem, they are highly beneficial to your wellness, and if you do them repeatedly, they become a habit. A habit reduces the unnecessary stress of having to think about what you need to do, giving your brain some sense of control. Therefore, no matter how far you are from home, employ these strategies to get you going through those tough times while on the road.