You know the feeling, right?
The empty, discontent, restless feeling of returning home again to a boring routine after an exciting adventure abroad. And it’s made 10x worse when the people around you don’t really understand.
When I first started travelling solo, I changed. But everyone and everything at home stayed the same. So when I came back to Belfast, I felt out of place. I felt like I didn’t belong there anymore.
After a trip, I would literally ignore my suitcase lying on the floor for a week before I unpacked. Just to avoid adjusting back to routine.
Everyone copes with post travel depression differently. Some people may distract themselves by doing 100 things at once and others might prefer the ice-cream-tub-on-your-bedside-table kind of method. And that’s OK. It’s important to allow yourself to feel exactly how you feel. But prolonged periods of severe dejection stop you from being productive and achieving your goals.
After realising this, I decided to change my reaction to the situation in order to maintain a happy life at home, not just abroad.
7 Positive Ways I’ve Found to Cope with Post Travel Depression:
1. Think of 5 things every day to be grateful for
I put this first for a reason. It’s the most effective way to kill the relentless longing for something you don’t have right now. Appreciate something as simple as your bed, or that you are fortunate enough to travel at all, and experience a new place with a different way of life. Start with 5, and more will come naturally. The more grateful you are, the more you will attract things to be grateful for.
Getting thrown back into your daily chaotic cycle at home is bound to overcrowd your mind with thoughts. Overthinking tends to cause more of your thoughts to be negative rather than positive, leading to stress. Meditation is the best way of quietening your mind, bringing you into the present moment and putting everything into perspective. It allows you to become more mindful and peaceful.
3. Ease in slowly
The first couple days back home – the “adjustment phase” – are usually the hardest. Take even a day to relax and do whatever you want to do. Giving yourself space from responsibilities will make it easier to deal with them in the coming days.
4. Treat Yo Self.
Mind, body and soul are connected. Don’t just treat the mind with meditation. Treat your body with exercise, healthy food and at least 7 hours of sleep a night. If you can, try sleeping one night without having to set your alarm. It’s a beautiful feeling to wake up naturally.
5. Plan your next trip
This seems to be the most common way to cope with post travel depression. Use your recent travel experience as motivation to save and plan for your next trip. Researching new places will awaken a fresh sense of passion, and booking your next trip will give you something to look forward to.
6. Explore your own country
This is probably the most neglected way of coping with post travel depression. We’re so busy going to foreign places that we forget there is beauty everywhere. Yes, even on our front doorstep. I promised myself once I got back home that I would see more of my city. Once I did, it was like seeing Belfast for the first time. Hiking in the mountains, walking through forests and running along undiscovered beaches made me appreciate how much cool stuff there is at home.
7. Work towards a lifestyle where you don’t have to return home
Whatever you do, don’t believe that you can only go on short trips for the rest of your life. Don’t believe that you can only have a life that is expected of you rather than the life you want. Realise your true power to create your own reality. If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you want to have a life on the road, make it happen. Move past your insecurities and other people’s opinions of you. Move past the excuses.
I don’t have enough money. I don’t have enough time. If you truly want it enough, make goals, take action, create positive habits and embody the lifestyle you want. It may be difficult but if you persist, it will inevitably become your reality.