I remember how hard it was to get out of bed in the mornings. The sun would rise, and I’d lay there for hours…feeling empty on the inside, feeling hot tears on the outside. I haven’t felt this level of low in a few years, and I attribute that to a few practices I put into my life, outlined below.
Last month was Mental Health Awareness Month, but we need to focus on our state of well-being all throughout the year. Nearly 450 million people worldwide are currently living with a mental illness with only 2/3 of those people never seeking treatment. Think about you or someone you know having depression, anxiety, an eating disorder or schizophrenia which affects mood, thinking and behavior — never being treated. It’s so important that we face this head on in our daily lives – personal and work-related. I love my job, but if travel blogging disappeared, I know exactly where I’d apply…
Johnson & Johnson takes its employee benefits to the next level. They see your company’s health insurance policy and raise you resilience training, emergency backup family care, financial coaching and comprehensive on-site healthcare. WHOA. The wellness work doesn’t stop there. Because suicide is on the rise, researching treatments is drastically needed. Enter Spravato, the first new drug to treat depression since Prozac hit the scene in the late 80s. The nasal spray is FDA approved and is meant to treat those who haven’t found relief from other antidepressants. Talk about game-changing (and 100% life-changing!). Speaking of, here are the 9 activities that have changed my life for the better:
Do whatever moves you…literally. Maybe that’s running, spinning, boxing, stretching, whatever. For me, I’ve been active from a young age. I watched my Dad get up around 4am every morning (okay, maybe I didn’t actually see this b/c I was still sleeping!), but I knew he’d be at his workout by 5am. Like clockwork, this was his routine (and still is to this day). It’s his drug, a must-have to get through his day of seeing ~100 patients in dental chairs, most under the age of 3. Working out gets the endorphins going as they act as a natural “drug,” making us more energetic, more awake and, yes, happier!
Yoga & Meditation
I started practicing yoga 8 years ago when a friend took me to a class. I hated it, but for some reason I went back again. And again. Third time was a charm and then I was hooked. I always tell people to keep trying different studios and teachers a few times before stopping and deciding it’s not for you. Recently, my practice has become so much more than fitness to me. Being on my mat is my place for presence and peace, two things that are super hard to come by every single day! Meditation came to me a lot later in life. Last year, I read 10% Happier by Dan Harris and completed my yoga teacher training, both opening my eyes to the benefits of meditation. Sometimes I’ll do a 15-20 minute meditation practice before yoga, and sometimes I’ll meditate without my mat. It looks different most days. When I find it hard to NOT concentrate on anything at all, I allow my mind to practice gratitude meditation where I think about all the people I love dearly and why and what I wish for them in this life.
If you’ve been following me for a while, you know I love a good tub. Enter #TubTalks here 😉 You can do just about anything inside this body of water – process your day, relax before bed, read a book, have a glass of wine, eat a pizza. Anything, and I mean anything, can compliment a bath if you let it.
I crave being by bodies of water and amongst the trees. It’s no secret that nature is cheaper than therapy. When I had my preventative double mastectomy surgery, one of the first trips I took was a solo trip to Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada. Talking about healing powers. Being alone and surrounded by nature helps me process the wounds – physical, emotional, and mental.
Social media is a blessing and a curse. Some days it reinstalls my faith in humanity and how beautiful it is. Some days it’s a total drag from Trolly McTollersons. Recently I’ve found that the more time I spend away, the more clarity I have because I’m not constantly comparing myself to others. I’ve also been finding more inspiration OFFline…but when used correctly, social media can be insanely beneficial. For me, my ah-ha moment with Instagram was healing from surgery. Complete strangers flooded my posts and DMs with love, and there’s nothing more powerful than that kind of support structure.
Keep them. Love them. Cherish them. Surround yourself with them. They are good for the soul. Cultivating close relationships keep me grounded, upbeat and healthy. Attracting positive people into our orbit is essential. Be the energy you want to attract.
I know my body very well. If I have 3 nights in a row of poor sleep, I get sick. It typically looks like this: anxiety the night before a long trip begins. Little to no sleep on the overnight flight. Jet lag on night 3. DUN DUN DUNNNN. I’ve been able to cut the anxiety that 1st night (packing early and taking a bath helps) and I’m prescribed sleeping aids for travel. Being proactive is everything!
This is a big one, even if it doesn’t seem like it at first. Taking the time to notice and reflect upon the things I’m thankful for leaves me with more positive emotions and makes me feel more alive. I try and always go a step further and really dig deep. What is it about my friends that I’m grateful for? Why do I love this lifestyle of travel so much? Getting specific and opening my eyes to more of the world around me deeply enhances my gratitude practice.
We all know how I feel about travel. Much like exercise, travel is my drug. It’s my therapy. It’s my medicine. I may have only been blogging about travel for a very little time, but I’ve been an active participant most of my life. Traveling expands my thinking, my relationships, my memories, and my livelihood. It’s a great way to avoid misunderstandings, even war and suffering. It’s simply a matter of not having a preconceived idea of what something or someone is, but rather going to see what something or someone is. Going a step further and processing these travels is icing on the mental health cake (…if there is one of those? Cake always makes me feel good so I’ll go with a YES). Writing down my thoughts and experiences, whether it be on The Road Les Traveled blog or in my journal, is a form of therapy for me. It’s the healthiest way to release emotions. Reflective writing allows me to gain mental and emotional clarity, validating my experiences and come to a deeper understanding of myself.