This is the time of year where some individuals, couples and/or families take summer vacations. Planning for a summer vacation can be stressful enough and often times during our trip we forget to look after our mental health. Below are some tips I would like to share that help me care for my mental health when I am far from home:
- Be sure to pack all of your medications and take them the same time as you normally would. Purchase a weekly pill box if that will save you storage (if you are flying, be sure to check with your airline to see what is the approved way to pack medications). Try to take your medications at the same time every day as if you were at home in your “normal” schedule. This can help you follow a daily routine and have some structure. I also find it helpful to create reminders in my phone to take my medications, especially when I’m traveling and am out of my daily routine.
- Prioritize sleep and rest times. Most vacations consist of little rest time which can mess with our sleep hygiene and daily schedule. At bedtime, make sure you have a place to sleep that is cool, quiet and dark or dimly lit. Follow a bedtime routine that makes sense for your schedule and allow for anywhere between 7-9 hours of sleep. Take naps during your flight or when you have down time during your day. Try to avoid napping longer than 45-60 minutes, longer naps can interrupt your nighttime sleep schedule.
- Drink plenty of water. According to Harvard Health Publishing and Chief Medical Editor; Howard E. LeWine, there is no one size answer as far as how much water you should drink. LeWine suggests talking to your doctor but other factors also should be considered such as: your activity level, outside temperatures, what medications you are taking as well as your age. Water has incredible benefits for us including; protecting our organs and tissues, regulating body temperature, aiding in digestion, preventing constipation, flushing bacteria and many, many more! Carry a water bottle with you and keep track of how much you drink in a day.
- Plan ahead for your trip. Figure out what areas you want to see and create an itinerary. Invite other family members or friends along to have a buddy system in case of an emergency. Research where you will be staying and the attractions you would like to visit. Search for attractions and places to stay that are safe with a low crime rate. With the internet, there are plenty of ways to check reviews and read up on the best areas to travel.
- Eat nutritiously. When traveling, we are exposed to so many different foods that are not always good for us. If you have a dietary restriction, continue with those restrictions to avoid an upset stomach. When you are out at a restaurant, pick foods that are easy to digest and offer some nutritious value. Easy to digest foods consist of fruits, vegetables, proteins such as poultry, thoroughly cooked meats, whole grains such as wheat bread, sweet potatoes, etc. Avoid fatty, fried foods, refined sugars such as sodas, cookies, cakes, and pastries, as well as alcohol. Plan ahead and pack your own foods, carry a lunch box in your vehicle or where you are staying that has your favorite healthy foods in it. Stock up at a local grocery store and place healthy foods within arm’s reach at your Air B&B or hotel room.
- Have Fun! Remember to be present during your vacation. Force yourself to consciously take in your sights, sounds, and smells. Take a moment to appreciate where you are and everything around you. Take joy in watching your friends, family, children, etc have fun. Create lasting memories that will help you look back on your trip affectionately.
Although these tips are not exhaustive, I added ones that have helped me in the past and I hope will help you in your next summer adventure! Do you have more tips that have helped you? If so, share them with me here