I start to feel burnt out when I’ve either spent too long with others or too long by myself. Both of these situations make me feel a bit anxious, restless or even a bit empty; as though something is missing. When I’m traveling alone, it’s tough to notice these feelings when they come up – I’m a very social and active traveler. I’m always trying to talk with the local folks, navigate a new city, find travel buddies or the cheapest latte, etc. Fending for oneself can be exhausting, and self-care while traveling is hard.
Recently I befriended two solo travelers. We connected immediately, and after only a day together we decided to rent a car and take a road trip in New Zealand’s South Island. This trip was one of the most fun, free-spirited road trips I’ve ever taken – everything seemed to worked out perfectly, to the stationary camper van we stayed at for two nights outside Queenstown, to the free cake on the Milford Sound cruise. It was all incredible. However, after 4 days of non-stop human contact I started to feel like I seriously needed some alone time. When I’m feeling this way here are some ways I stop and reflect in order to reconnect with myself, my journey, and my larger goals and priorities.
1. Read a good book
Read something that inspires you, something you genuinely enjoy (not the latest bestseller you think you should be reading). It might be about starting your own business, a collection of poems, a sci-fi novel to feed your imagination, or a coloring book that spark creativity. Reading for pleasure calms and exercises your brain instead of turning it into a Netflix mush (although thats great fun too).
2. Write 7 things I am grateful for
To structure this task I think about my immediate surroundings, people in my life, and past and future events. I write down things around me that bring me joy (like my cup of coffee or computer), specific appreciations I have for my relationships (friends, family, etc), or things that have happened or are going to happen that have been especially awesome (an experience, destination, etc). Remembering the things that are going well trains your brain to have this perspective in other interactions. When you start to notice all the awesome things going on around you, more awesome things pop up. For example, maybe you just noticed the weather has been really gorgeous lately… then you’ll start to notice how much you appreciate the beautiful weather, the sunshine, how lucky you are that there’s no bugs! And 7 is a cool number, so write down 7 things, right now.
3. Use some expensive soaps, creams or body scrubs
If this is in your budget, treat your body to some essential oil-y goodness. Treating your body well makes your mind at ease too. And you’ll undoubtedly feel freaking fantastic and badass afterwards!
4. Go for a walk
It is scientifically proven that nature stimulates all of your 5 senses and calms the nervous system, reduces stress and increases mental clarity. If nature is available to you, take some time to explore the area nearby – trees, greenery, quietness, solitude, chirping wildlife. Alternatively, take a walk anywhere that is available to you. Moving you body does wonders for your mood.
5. Watch Netflix
Sometimes all you need is a good few episodes of your favorite show to feel like a new person.This isn’t always the answer, and I can definitely be too quick to resort to TV shows because its just too darn convenient and enjoyable. But sometimes it works and its perfect and just the chillaxing I need.
6. Close your eyes, take 3 deep breaths, feel the ground beneath you
This is a great, quick way to ground yourself if you’re feeling anxious, exhausted, irritated, angry, or just weird. And you just meditated a little, so well done. Try it, you might just feel 10 times better.
7. Bring your at-home hobbies and joys to you
Maybe you love kayaking, figure skating, reading manga, drinking carrot juice, whatever it is, carve out a slice of time for yourself to do the thing that lights you up. Setting aside time to do something just for you will help you feel rejuvenated and inspired to continue with your journey.
Traveling can have a very “go go go” mentality: You think you’ve constantly got to be doing lots of activities and make sure you aren’t missing anything. Instead, try going a bit slower, do the sightseeing you really enjoy, and make sure to be kind to yourself along the way. Enjoy the ride.