Travel is exciting because it takes us out of our comfort zones into the great unfamiliar where most of our personal growth occurs. We often come back from a trip feeling as though we are a completely different person; nothing may have changed back home, but it still feels different.
For this reason, we might feel misunderstood by family and friends and quickly begin to long for the people who surrounded us on our travels. And when the time comes to return to a routine of work and/or study, it can become too much. The travel lifestyle becomes increasingly appealing. The truth is that a travel lifestyle is not feasible (or even truly desirable) for most of us. However, there are several other ways of overcoming the post-travel blues without losing the life-changing lessons you learned while on the road.
Here are four easy suggestions:
1. Get enough sleep.
If you have just survived a tedious long-haul flight, then this will probably mean crawling into the cozy depths of your familiar bed and sleeping to your heart’s content. However, once your body has recuperated from the stress of changing time zones, it’s in the interest of your long-term health to establish a sleep routine that is as regular as possible. Scientific studies suggest that “misalignment of sleep timing is associated with metabolic risk factors that predispose [one] to diabetes and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.”
In order to encourage yourself to go to bed at a similar time each night, make this part of the day something you look forward to. If you are an incurable book worm, snuggle up with an exciting book. If a mind swarming with thoughts is keeping you awake, try one of many mindfulness practices. If you have an eye for interior design, treat yourself to a scented candle and a new set of soft bed sheets.
2. Get back into a routine by helping others.
It is often easier to commit to a routine and maintain it if we know that others are relying on us.
One of the best examples of this is babysitting the children in your life, whether they are siblings, cousins, nephews and nieces or children of friends. (After all, a Netflix marathon at 11pm seems a lot less appealing when you know that you have to get up in a few hours to spend the day in the company of an unruly five-year-old.)
If you are more of an animal person, then your neighbor might appreciate if you take their dog for a walk in the mornings. It might also be worth considering how people you might not know well, and who may not live next door to you, could benefit from your skills and time. Perhaps you could teach English at a community center or visit the elderly in a retirement home?
Whichever form of volunteering you choose, you will be rewarded with a sense of purpose — a reason to maintain your life in a routine. Feeling needed right here, right now and attending to the needs of a fellow human being in response has the power to take you out of the bubble of your thoughts, which is exactly what you need when engulfed in the post-travel blues. Thus, you can recognize that the time you spend at home is no less important or meaningful than the time you spend traveling.
Feeling needed right here, right now … has the power to take you out of the bubble of your thoughts …
3. Exercise mindfully.
Getting back into a workout routine can do wonders for boosting your mood after a trip, but even though we know that exercise is essential to our health, we nonetheless often struggle to commit to it. Although there are many reasons for this, it might be helpful to examine your mindset to see if your way of thinking is the cause of your dislike for exercise.
Perhaps, if instead of thinking about the body transformation that you hope to attain from working out, you simply focus on the exercise at hand. One breath and one step at a time, it could become an enjoyable activity. After all, when something is enjoyable it becomes much easier to incorporate it into a routine. And maybe then the routine itself might become a little less mundane and the chaos of travel a little less desirable in comparison.
4. Start a gratitude journal.
Journaling is excellent in the case of post-travel blues as it allows you to not only develop a deeper appreciation for the gifts in your life at present, but to also reflect on your travels in a positive light and to apply the lessons learned to your everyday life. By adopting a focus on gratitude, you can avoid falling into the trap of reminiscing about “the good times gone by” or complaining about how ordinary your life is. Instead, you can train yourself to recognize how precious is every passing moment. Seasons will change, children will grow and friendships may crumble in order to make room for new ones.
There’s meaning for it all.
Is regaining a sense of normalcy difficult for you after traveling? How do you cope?
Images via Beth Cath