Even while you are traveling the world and fulfilling your dreams, it is still important to be proactive about your mental health. In fact, it becomes all the more important because when you’re traveling, you are usually faced with highly stressful situations and often unpredictable situations that can throw you for a loop (say hello to delayed flights)
If you are in therapy, it is impossible to physically check in with your therapist because you’re hundreds or thousands of miles away. Nevertheless, there are many other ways you can stay on top of your therapy plan while traveling, and here are some of the best ones to start:
1. Seek telehealth sessions
If there is one good thing that came out of the pandemic, it’s the increase in telehealth services. Telehealth is an alternative method of providing healthcare wherein patients and doctors communicate through video conferencing tools, thus eliminating the need for travel and close contact. Numerous mental health services have already adopted telehealth to service patients no matter where they are, and different types of therapy are available, including cognitive-behavioral therapy or CBT, interpersonal therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, and many more.
Find a schedule that works for your travel plans, then all you have to do next is make sure you have WiFi and a quiet place to talk with your therapist before your session starts.
2. Keep a journal
Create a mental health journal for your travels. Here, you can write your therapists’ advice, notes about your mental state, your feelings, and more. Journaling is a great stress-relief activity in and of itself. It can help ground you amidst stressful environments or situations, and it can also serve as a log that you can use to reevaluate your experiences later on.\
3. Consider online counseling services
If you don’t have a therapist or have one but don’t want to bother them with multiple texts, consider signing up for an online counseling service that will allow you to get help whenever you need it. Most online counseling services let you communicate with your therapist continuously, meaning you won’t have to wait until your next session before you can talk to someone.
Online counseling services are especially useful while you’re traveling. Since you won’t know when you’d need to talk to someone, having a service that you can call right away makes a huge difference. Just the mere fact of knowing you have a professional to talk to at any time can take a lot of anxiety off your shoulders, especially when you’re stuck in a busy airport or having a panic attack in the middle of nowhere.
4. Talk to your provider before leaving
It is highly advisable that you talk to your mental health provider at least once before leaving for your trip. Take it as an opportunity to talk about any fear or anxiety you may have about the trip, as well as the bad experiences that you think are causing them. This way, you can ensure that you have good coping mechanisms in place before you leave, helping reduce the risk of panic or anxiety attacks in the future.
5. Find a local mental health provider
An ounce of prevention is always worth a pound of cure. Before you leave for your trip, find a mental health provider at your destination that speaks your language. You may not always be able to get in touch with your main therapist while you’re away (especially if you are going to a country with a different time zone), so having a contingency plan just in case is highly important.
Write down that provider’s information and program their hotline on your phone. In doing so, you would have someone to get in touch with as soon as possible in case of a mental health emergency.
6. Write down your therapist’s advice
It can be difficult to remember everything your therapist tells you, especially while traveling when your brain is likely reeling from overstimulation. To help you stay on top of things, write down your therapist’s advice on a piece of paper and keep it in a safe place. This way, you always have something to refer to whenever you’re feeling down, anxious, fearful, or panicky—regardless of where you are and what the local time is.
Traveling can be scary, but it can also be transformative, relaxing, calming, and more. With that in mind, don’t let your fears stop you from living out your dream. As long as you make the proper preparations, you can travel to your heart’s content and still be able to take good care of your mental health along the way.