How to Care for Your Mental Health on Vacation

woman backpacking mountains

It sounds weird to think we need to pay attention to our mental health while on vacation. After all, there’s plenty of evidence showing vacations improve our mental health.

But when you go on vacation, you leave behind the comfort of a familiar environment, the support of a therapist, and the consistency of a routine. A vacation can actually trigger mental illness symptom flare ups, whether you’re traveling alone or with friends or family.

Here are some strategies you can use to stay mentally healthy on your next trip:

Take Care of Your Body

Exercise helps stave off mental illness symptoms. But it can be hard to make time for it while you’re on vacation.

If going to the gym is part of your normal routine, you can drop in to your hotel gym. Or if you belong to a chain gym, there are likely facilities all over the country you may be able to access for no extra fee.

The point isn’t to miss out on all the fun because you have to hit the gym, though. You can incorporate fitness into your vacation in more subtle ways, like by taking long walks through a new city or along the beach. The key is to stay moving. Continue reading How to Care for Your Mental Health on Vacation

Traveling with Depression: How I Should Have Prepared

woman backpack mountain

Mental health can be a journey. Journeying while struggling with mental health challenges, however, can be almost impossible.

In 2015 I traveled to Puno, Peru, to work on a research project as a part of my graduate degree in international public health. Before enrolling in the degree program, I had spent the better part of the previous two years traveling and living abroad in some capacity and was excited to have the opportunity to travel as a part of my career.

As my departure date to Peru creeped closer, I started seeing a therapist at the university health center to talk about concerns I had about traveling. I had experienced acute depression that year for the first time and was nervous it would creep back in while I was in a low-resource setting abroad. My in-person therapist told me many students feel this way before completing fieldwork abroad and I would be fine to push through.

I didn’t want my fears around my mental health to stop me from traveling. I wanted to be “strong.” So off I flew to Puno. Continue reading Traveling with Depression: How I Should Have Prepared