I will admit, I am a complete amateur when it comes to travel. I have no sense of direction, a list of fears as long as a python and woeful social skills. All things considered, it is a miracle I have ever been able to travel anywhere, let alone write a blog about it. Being such an unlikely candidate for travel means that I am not one of the elegant, worldly goddesses that you see on Instagram. As much as I would love to be that composed, the reality is a blundering redhead who is engaged in an ongoing struggle between the who she is and who she strives to be. I am a constant over-thinker who melts down when unexpected obstacles crop up, which they do, a lot. Despite this being both mentally and physically exhausting (not to mention embarrassing), these personality shortcomings have taught me a fair bit about dealing with stress on the road.
Don’t forget to breathe
Until recently, I had always assumed that breathing to conquer stress was a load of hippy trash. However, as someone is who prone to stress-induced meltdowns regularly, I can vouch for their effectiveness. Take a deep breath in through your nose, and then exhale through your mouth. Stress releases the ‘flight or fight’ hormones into your body which create the physical side effects of dry mouth and sweaty palms. The simple act of focusing in on your breathing works as a distraction and helps to slow your heartbeat to help you relax.
Walk, walk, walk
This is the ultimate head clearing tip: go for a walk. Walking releases endorphins and boosts energy which is bound to make you feel better. I find that the repetitive nature of walking allows me to get into a rhythm which in itself is very soothing. Being outside and away from the situation allows you to move beyond the stress and get some perspective on the events that have unfolded.
Take five minutes for yourself
If I am feeling particularly overwhelmed, I find it helpful to withdraw from the company I am in and give myself some time to reflect on my feelings. All of us have different strategies for combatting the symptoms of stress whether it be exercise, music or spending time with a pet. One thing that I find very useful is writing. By getting my feelings out onto paper, I find it easier to process them and look at them more objectively.
Reimagine the situation
If you can succeed in looking at the problem from another angle and putting a different spin on it, you are bound to feel better. Whilst this is something I find difficult, doing it right does mean your stress levels will be massively reduced. One thing I find useful is to say to myself ‘there will be life after this event’ and then I try to imagine it. Reducing the stress to an inconvenience with an endpoint helps me to move past it.
Forget how crazy you will look and just laugh
Ever heard of laughter therapy? It is a real thing, honestly! Try to find the humour in your situation and laugh. There are a few reasons why laughing is so effective in tackling stress: it relaxes the muscles, which in turn calms the mind and brings more oxygen into the body. This helps you feel refreshed and triggers a positive response to a negative situation, meaning you won’t stay down for long.
Go for a beer
This is my ‘if all else fails’ option and one probably not recommended by anyone with any medical knowledge. I have utilised this technique myself when I was bitten by a feral dog in Vietnam. I had just about been getting over my fear of sinister street animals and then this unsuspecting mongrel threw a spanner in the works. Luckily, the bite did not break the skin but Tim could say nothing to convince me I didn’t have rabies. I was hysterical and even knowing there was no open wound did nothing to appease me. I begged Tim to take me to the hospital and it was only when he told me our nearest medical centre was over a days journey away and it would be too late anyway, that I resigned myself to my fate…and went for a beer. A couple of drinks in and I was already feeling more optimistic about the long-term effects of the bite (there were none) and definitely much more chilled out.
Time to reflect
Stress is horrible but you will have to deal with it no matter what you do in life. Feeling stressed on the road can be even more overwhelming because you are separate from all of the familiar things and people that usually give you comfort. This doesn’t mean that you have to let the stress control you though. Take some time out, refocus your mind and try to see the positive. And if all that fails? Go to the Winchester, have a nice cold pint and wait for all of this to blow over.
How do you deal with stress on the road?
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