Stop Work Travel | After My Neck Froze: 10 Strategies to Balance Self-Care and Long Term Travel

After My Neck Froze: 10 Strategies to Balance Self-Care and Long Term Travel

February 26, 2016

frozen neck 1

Here are my recommended strategies. Some of them I practiced in the past, but they have taken on greater meaning and importance on this trip.

  1. Gratitude. Every day I write down 3 things I am grateful for, and what I affirm for myself. I always feel uplifted by this simple practice.
  1. Forgiveness. Every day I do a brief but deep ritual to release blame and judgement of myself and others – a practice that was recommended to me while in Bali, and feels awesome.
  1. Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). Although I no longer do this every day, I certainly practice EFT when I notice stress or a down feeling. It helps me express loneliness and missing loved ones, and move through the emotions. I no longer neglect important feelings.
  1. Longer stays in one location. If I am only 1-2 days in a place, there is little time to relax and rest; my mind is too active thinking about the next steps. My minimum stay is 3-4 days. If I do have to limit the stay, I avoid creating an overly-busy schedule on the following day.
  1. Home stays over hostels or hostels. While I have stayed in hostels and hotels that were well-managed and where I met terrific people, I can relax better in a home, have privacy, and enjoy the comforts of a kitchen, living room, sometimes even a garden or terrace, and often friendly, helpful hosts. (As I write this, I am appreciating an opportunity to stay in a sweet home in Australia for 12 days to take care of two adorable dogs while the homeowner visits her son!)
  1. Reduction of departure stress. It’s hard to leave a great place you have gotten to enjoy and know, and the new friends you have made. I am extra gentle with myself at departure time, practicing positive self-talk, and writing in my journal what I have loved and want to remember. If the place makes my “Return Here” list, I feel better. This was just the first round – see you again!
  1. Reduction of arrival stress. Everything is new again when you first arrive, which can be stressful. I get my directions in advance, figure out the transport, get local currency, double-check the schedule, and try not to arrive too late at night. When helpful people come across my path, I am extra grateful. Especially if I do have to arrive in the middle of the night, as in Trivandrum (great to meet you, David!). Over time I am getting used to the fact that I may get lost, but things work out; I don’t stress as readily now about arrivals.
  1. Healthy food, clean water, and not eating late at night. This may seem obvious, but when you travel there are many temptations to be irregular or cheat. Eating a balanced meal, drinking green juices, and limiting sugar and alcohol, is all common sense. If I’m not sure about the water I take out my handy little ultraviolet light purifier. By not eating after 8 pm, my body can rest and restore itself more easily.
  1. Taking opportunities for detoxing and self-care. I make sure to have saunas, massages, body scrubs, and reflexology as I travel. I treat myself more when the services are both excellent and low-cost, as was the case in India (where I loved receiving my first Ayurvedic massage in Udaipur) as well as in Thailand and Bali.
  1. Staying in touch. It’s not always easy to stay in touch while traveling. I use Skype, Face Time and sometimes the phone and email. With free VoIP and low-cost phone service I am blessed to talk to friends and family when I can, even though the technology doesn’t always cooperate and I have to juggle time zones. I also post pictures and share on Facebook, where I get to see what is going on with my community as well. It would be a lot lonelier and stressful without feeling the love! Now that I am blogging, I expect meaningful interaction to increase, and I’m stoked about that (as well as all the hugs awaiting for when I return to visit!) Let me know in the comments your thoughts about self-care on the road, and what you liked about this post.

In addition to these practices, I walk a lot and do yoga. I make use of a small health kit that travels with me – it contains vitamins, minerals, homeopathic remedies for common ailments, pain meds, and a bottle of Chinese herbs. I also carry traveler’s health insurance for emergencies.

Having learned to balance my schedule and manage stress, there is less to worry about, and I stay pretty healthy. With balance, noticing and addressing what is going on, and being gentle with myself, more of me is available to the journey – to enjoy what is before me, what has just passed by, and to feel more gratitude for the wonderful and precious people in my life, both familiar and just-met.

How do you manage travel stress? Any tips to add? Let me know in the comments.

See you on the road!