Travel, no matter how far or for how long, can negatively affect your mental health.
If you’re a mental health sufferer, you’ll more than understand that uncomfortable feeling. It could be that feeling of uneasiness in large crowds, panic when you’re alone, or, quite simply, the act of travelling from one place to another. Anything can trigger a range of thoughts and feelings and their effects can vary from person to person.
Travelling is something we all do. We travel to work, go shopping, visit family members; we wouldn’t be able to live a fulfilled life if we didn’t. However, for some, this daily task can be one of the most stressful. With so much to consider, it makes sense to feel a little overwhelmed. I’ve teamed up with SLV Global, providers of student work experience placements abroad in psychology and mental health. Together, we’ll open your eyes to the impacts of mental health on travel and how you can overcome it.
For some people, and perhaps you’re one of them, waking up in the morning is a challenge. It might not be because you hate those cold dark mornings or that you’re just not looking forward to the day ahead. It could simply be your commute. Making sure you’re catching the right train, or that you’ll get to your destination on time are just some of the worries you could face. Couple that with the fact that you hate crowded places, and you’re faced with the perfect recipe for disaster.
Understanding people’s needs.
Everyone’s needs differ and it’s important to realise how people are affected. What are some of the difficulties people face each day?
Being away from people you normally spend a lot of time with can be tough. Even though some of us may not travel very far each day, it can be difficult travelling alone. The thought of becoming further and further away from family or friends removes that safety net, making a person feel vulnerable and alone.
Surrounded by strangers.
Some of us can feel overly uncomfortable around strangers, making travelling incredibly difficult. You may not feel safe and secure in public, or there may be a constant fear of someone speaking to you, perhaps talking about a topic you know nothing about.
Delays to your journey.
If there’s a delay, or you miss your transport window, then this can set off that worry and panic even further. A person’s mind can go into overdrive, automatically thinking about the consequences. Your boss might penalise you, you could miss an appointment, or you might not be able to arrive at your destination at all.
For anyone, being in an unfamiliar place can set us on edge. You don’t know how to get help if something goes wrong, where to go or who to speak to if you have an urgent question. For someone with mental health problems, this particular issue is magnified significantly.
Ill health during travel.
Becoming ill on your daily commute is not only an embarrassing occurrence, especially when you’re alone, but being far away from a comfortable space can be the worst feeling. The worry about becoming ill may even trigger an illness for some sufferers.
Type of travel.
Walking from place to place may be a trigger free zone but replace that with a need to get somewhere quicker using a bus or train, and there can be a higher chance of a negative mental episode. Being forced to travel in a way you’re not used to can be extremely uncomfortable when you don’t know the ropes.
How to cope.
Despite the endless list of impacts, there are also many ways to cope, thankfully! Here are the best steps to take to cope with your mental health on those stressful days.
Plan your journey…then a plan B!
Ensure your journeys are always planned out perfectly. Plan the times you can get a train or bus, or even when you plan to set off from your house every day. If a train is delayed, have a backup plan, or another train you can get on to get you to your destination within plenty of time. It’s important to remember that these things happen every day.
Travel with a friend until you feel comfortable.
Being alone is daunting enough as it is. Wherever you can, plan for a friend or family member to travel with you to ease some of the stress you might face. You’ll be surprised at the calming benefits it has. Failing that, there are a lot of people around to help you, should you begin to feel a little uncomfortable. People can be much more understanding than you think!
Keep yourself busy.
If you know you find journeys stressful, take something with you to divert your attention away from what is happening around you. Keep yourself busy with a good book or download some interesting podcasts to get into until you arrive at your destination.
Want to learn more about mental health?
This post was in collaboration with SLV Global, who organise work placements for students in the mental health and psychology sectors. For more information about what they offer and to get involved, visit their website: www.slv.global.