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Mental health

Mental health
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How travellers can protect their mental health

The stress of travel can have an impact on your mental health and wellbeing, but there are a few steps you can take to protect yourself.

The way people with psychological problems are treated varies enormously around the world and you may find it hard to access care that is up to Canadian standards. Getting help early is key if you think your mental health is deteriorating. Talk to your travelling companions, a doctor, a local mental health service or the Canadian embassy or consulate.

Beat anxiety while travelling

Travel is a stressful business, and can make anxiety flare up. Plan your journeys so that you have plenty of time to make connections, and so that you will arrive in plenty of time for a special event or meeting. This is particularly important if you are visiting a region where the transport network is poor.

Anxiety about flying is really common, and many airports offer classes to help you combat this.

Phone home to support mental wellbeing

It is hard work adapting to a new culture and travellers often feel isolated because of language barriers and because they are surrounded by strangers. Take time to phone a friend or a relative for chat, or write an email. Writing a travel journal can also help you to process all your new experience, and it makes a wonderful memento.

Learning a few key phrases in the local language, such as hello, goodbye and please and thank you. Speaking in and listening to a foreign language is exhausting, so you may find you need more rest than usual.

Routine is key for healthy travel

A good daily routine is a great way to promote your wellbeing while travelling. Even something as simple as waking up at the same day each time and eating your meals at set times can make all the difference. Here’s why:

  • Feeling in control is a major aspect of wellbeing, and a routine helps you to control your circumstances and surroundings.
  • Good nutrition and hydration support mental wellbeing, and a routine helps you to not skip meals.
  • It makes it easy to take any medications you have been prescribed.

While we’re on the subject of medication, continue to take any meds you have been prescribed for the duration of your trip. Bring a good supply with you, and do not stop taking it without getting advice from a healthcare professional.

Physical health supports mental health

On a longer trip you will inevitably get ill. Exposure to unusual viruses and bacteria, and the stress of travel affects your immune system so you are more susceptible to illness. When you remember that “low mood” is a symptom of many common illnesses, it is easy to see how your physical health can affect your mental health. Also, pain and discomfort have an impact on your mental wellbeing. Don’t try to battle through an illness because you are worried about missing out on some exciting experience. Take the time to rest: you will get better much faster that way.

How to get past culture shock

There is psychological problem known as culture shock that can occur as you adjust to a new culture or environment. You may feel anxiety and depression, or you may have strong negative feelings towards your host country. You may just have to ride out culture shock, but this is easier if you are expecting to have some negative feelings about the country you are visiting. Other than that, go easy on yourself, and give yourself some time to adapt.

Have you got more questions about mental health while travelling?

The healthcare advisers at Canadian Travel Clinics can give you tips and advice in complete confidence about all aspects of travel, including mental health. Make an appointment today at one of our travel clinics in Alberta to discuss your requirements.