How to make the best decision for your mental health
Written by Donna Cameron
As I write this, my first domestic trip since the Melbourne lockdown came to an end is happening tomorrow, and my first international trip is taking off in less than 25 days. The feelings prior to any trips I have been on in the past have been very different to what I, and many other people, are experiencing now.
Usually, I can taste the cocktails and have my bags packed, but this time it seems very very different. The thoughts, the feelings and even the language people are using about these upcoming trips have all changed.
If someone asks me “what are your plans for the new year?”, I find myself saying “I am hoping to go to Fiji”. What is this word “hoping”? This word sounds like it is an unknown and a plan that hasn’t unfolded yet when in reality the trip is booked, paid for, and less than 25 days away. In the past, this word would never have been used. I would have said very confidently and excitedly, “I am off to Fiji in 25 days”.
It is completely normal to feel uncertain after the two years that we have all experienced. Rules can be changed at any moment and there seems to be a lot of hurdles to jump over before even getting to the airport.
Waiting for the Covid-19 test results was very anxiety-provoking. I was so paranoid about contracting Covid-19, that I, like many others, cancelled social events and went into my own form of isolation. The night waiting for the test result was a very restless night!
So why put ourselves through all this stress and anxiety! Are we all crazy trying to travel again?
What it comes down to is your reasons for the travel. For most, it is about friends and family. Taking the risk seems worth it for those who have had distance between their loved ones and themselves over the last 24 months. Many have missed milestone birthdays, births and just time with the ones they love. For some, it is the first time they can be with family to grieve the loss of family members. For others, it is just to have that much-missed hug.
Some will return to travel as they are craving the adventure that they haven’t been able to experience for a couple of years. For so many, travel is a life goal - exploring the world, living in other countries, visiting the lands of their ancestors, or partying on a beach in Europe. Whatever the reason, goals are often set years prior and thanks to the pandemic, the pause of achieving these goals have been very disappointing for many.
For The Ones Of Us Who Are Willing To Take The Risk, What Can We Do To Keep The Anxiety At Bay So We Can Enjoy This Travel Time?
1. Expect the nerves- Even for the most seasoned traveller, this is not a travel world that any of us have experienced before. You will be worried about the trip happening until you have safely landed and passed that last covid-test!
2. Follow the rules- Expect travel to be different and play by the rules. If you need to get tested, get tested. If there are extra lines and longer waits, just go with it. This is all part and parcel of the adventure that awaits.
3. Plan for everything!- This is the time to read the fine print for the flights, the hotels, and the insurances. Plans may change and it is important to understand this and be ready. Currently, you cannot leave things to chance. Planning for travel and having backup options has never been more important.
What If I Am Not Ready For The Travel Risks Yet?
For those who find the thoughts of the new rules, restrictions, and possibility of sudden changes too stressful, then really consider if travel is right for you at this moment. Stress will mean that finding any joy will be almost impossible. Even if you arrive without anything going wrong, stressing about the return may result in the trip being a waste of energy for you. Leave it a few more months. Watch how it all plays out and then make your decisions when you feel ready.
Mental Health Preparation For The Travel Adventure
1. Look after your physical health prior to the trip- Your body will be impacted by this additional worry and stress, so it is important to allow for this. Exercise, eat well and get your sleep in the weeks leading up to your travel adventure.
2. Write a list of the new “to do’s”- Plan it all out including the times, dates and locations for everything you need to do. Once your mind has it all written down and planned out, your brain can relax and focus on what you need to achieve each day prior to the trip.
3. Allow yourself to get excited and pack!- If something has to change last minute this will be out of your control. If it doesn’t change and you haven’t allowed yourself to feel the excitement of the adventure ahead it will be hard to get into “holiday mode”. A bit of positive thinking is not going to hurt, and if you need to sleep with your lucky socks on the week before you travel, that’s ok as well!
Whatever you decide, the most important thing is that one more part of our world and our lives is returning. We all need to see this to keep hope and to start planning for life again. For me, I am ready to jump back into it, take the risk and hope for the best….this Psychologist has been homebound for way too long!
See you on the plane and happy travelling.
How to make the best decision for your mental health How to make the best decision for your mental health How to make the best decision for your mental health