The feeling that you get when driving to the airport and stamping your passport is incomparable. Any traveller will know the excitement that rushes through your veins when your boarding call comes over the airport intercom. Once you touch ground in the new destination, all senses are piqued. You inhale new smells, absorb new cultures and see new sights. However, there is another side of travelling that people don’t often discuss.
In light of World Mental Health Day, we thought it important to draw attention to the loneliness and difficulty in adjusting that can occur when travelling with mental health issues. Having to settle in a new, strange place can shake someone mentally, especially if unprepared for what is to come.
A lot of graduates choose to do their internship abroad. International internships give young minds and hearts an opportunity to make an impact and travel with a purpose. By expanding your horizons, you are given the gift of perspective. As well as the opportunity to make unforgettable memories while making a difference.
On the one hand, travel is known to be incredible for a mental health boost. It can be a great stress buster, give you the opportunity to reinvent (or further discover) yourself, improve your mental resilience and enhance creativity.
On the other hand, travel can spark mood changes, anxiety, and depression, especially if you are prone to mental health issues. It’s important to have a respectful understanding of your own mental health history before jumping on the plane.
One of the best ways to make the most of your time abroad is to make sure that you are prepared. This preparation involves more than packing a rain jacket and comfortable walking shoes. It means preparing your mind for new experiences.
Preparing your mind to travel
The platforms to discuss mental health have opened up significantly over the past couple of years. This allows individuals to be aware of their mental health without having to feel any shame or fear.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mention that “Anticipating the possible stresses of travel can help you cope with some of the thoughts and feelings that you may have before, during, or after your trip.”
It’s not unusual for travel to introduce moments of loneliness amidst the hustle and bustle of new experiences. Even if you normally consider yourself to be fine, it’s possible for the distance far from friends and family to trigger a mental break.
Don’t let that stop you
Knowing the different moments that you’ll experience when travelling will better equip you to make the most of your time abroad. There are various measures that you can take to make sure that you keep your mind healthy. Especially in a different stimulating environment.
Take care of your physical health while travelling by eating healthily and exercise when you can. This will keep your endorphins high and vitally feeling full. If you know that you are prone to mental health issues, be careful not to abuse alcohol and make sure that you get enough sleep.
If you find yourself experiencing moments of stress or anxiety, reach out to someone that you trust. Someone that you can talk to. Finding a supportive outlet is another important asset in dealing with mental health while travelling. Pick up a pen and begin to journal. Or find a buddy that you can talk to when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
The importance of support
When choosing to intern abroad, take advantage of organizations that promise a strong support system to help you every step of the way along your internship journey. From the smaller details such as aligning budget, arranging local city guides and transport, to taking care of the important aspects of the heart and mind.
Stepping into the unknown is one of the best, and most rewarding, parts of travelling. But it can also be the most intimidating. Your mental health does not need to be an obstacle, especially when it comes to traveling with a purpose. Knowledge and preparation are power!