‘Breathe in deeply to bring your mind home to your body.’ – Thich Nhat Hanh
I have had depression and anxiety for 12 years now. Some days, weeks or even years, it doesn’t bother me at all. It ‘goes away’. I’m cured! Then suddenly, without any warning, depression clouds my mind- distorting my thoughts and sapping all energy from my body. Whilst anxiety whispers in my ear all the fears I thought I’d conquered-reminding me of my every time I’ve failed. They are brothers, different but still the same. Determined to destroy my sense of self; my mind and soul.
1 n 4 people will experience a mental health problem in any given year.
So the likelihood is that 1 in 4 travellers that you meet have had a mental health problem themselves. What a juxtaposition that is- a person ‘living the dream’ has a mental illness?!
Whilst travelling it’s easy to settle in to holiday mode; lazy days, little sleep, too much booze, too many carbs.
I made that mistake when I first got to Queenstown (party capital of New Zealand y’all, what else was I gonna do?). But I’d just come off my medication before leaving and I wasn’t helping myself.
I wasn’t depressed per se, but I wasn’t really present either. I would wake up from terrible nightmares and have a full blown panic attack without a pill in sight to calm me down.
I drank 6 nights/days a week dependent on work. I ate a lot of really amazing (and calorific) food. I smoked more than I should have. I went on hikes but I rewarded myself with more booze or food (how I miss Patagonia ice creams!). I worked until 11pm and went out drinking until 5am when I had work again at 10am.
We all know how too much booze and not enough exercise effects your body. Do we all know it can wreak havoc on your mind too?
The longest I’ve backpacked was 7 weeks but this time we’re aiming for 12 months. There’s no sort of routine from work this time; it’s up to me to figure out a way to not just keep my body healthy, but my mind too.
The aim is to focus on keeping to a morning and evening routine, factor in time for exercise, try not to just live off of the budget backpackers cheap eats of pasta and noodles and most importantly, make time to relax.
Travelling to new places constantly keeps my mind on high alert. I need to learn to make time to stop. Breathe. Enjoy it. Focus on how I’m feeling.
I’ll keep you posted on how well it goes (especially where the morning routine is concerned…)
If you have any recommendations for this none morning person- please get in touch!