The romanticism of living a nomadic life is more often than not a distant cry from reality. The grass is always greener, as they say. The truth is, all of us can experience burn out no matter the setting or lifestyle. Imagine holding two large drinking glasses of water in your hands with your arms fully extended from your body. Now picture every stress in your life weighs one ounce and every time a new stress factor arises another ounce of water is poured into one of the drinking glasses. The glasses get heavier and the urge to drop your arms (or to take sips of the water) grows with every passing minute. Finding the strength to continue holding the water in the glasses without spilling is a tangible representation of resiliency, your ability to bend without breaking.
Resiliency is far more than being able to “bounce back” when life throws a curveball; it’s a mindset. Arguably, a lifestyle. Challenges and disappointments are bound to occur, it’s how we respond to these setbacks that is essential to our mental well-being. The ability to adapt our mindset to a place of constant personal growth helps develop this all too necessary attitude.
Acknowledging the fact that to be human is to be flawed develops our ability to empathise with ourselves, giving us permission to empathise with others. A nomadic lifestyle is full of overwhelming scenarios, the majority of which are out of our control. Using this as the backdrop for practicing resiliency, travellers are typically forced to fast forward their learning curve. Strengthening the resiliency muscle takes practice and the best way to do so is via self-care. Keeping our minds healthy, practicing positive behaviours and resetting (or eliminating) any negative energy is the foundation of self-care and the backbone of learning to be resilient.
Self-care Suggestions for Nomads
Read: As a writer I find reading as mandatory as breathing. If it’s a science fiction series that helps you escape your immediate surroundings or a cult-classic like Eat ,Pray, Love that reinforces the importance of being on a journey, there is always something to gain from immersing yourself in the written work of other authors. Discover new words, sentence structure, and phrases as you allow your mind to relax.
Meditate: Insert everything you’ve ever heard about the importance of meditation here—it can be tough but the physical and mental stillness you create from meditation can be surprisingly uplifting. The clarity achieved when attempting to still the mind can be truly inspiring in the creative sense.
Sitting in a meditation pose can help to correct any posture issues from spending too much time hunched over a laptop. Whether riding in trains or on buses or that overnight flight, pushing to make deadlines, late-night goal-setting sessions, or too many consecutive hours of that free online workshop can take its toll on our bodies and minds
Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness is a fancy way of saying being present. Too often the mind gets stuck focusing on what just transpired or what awaits us. Being mindful brings the focus back to right now. One example of a healthy way to practice mindfulness is chewing food slowly. Practice activating each sense involved in the process. What does the texture feel like on your tongue? What flavours surprise you? How many breaths do you take until you swallow the food? Another example is taking dance breaks. If you find your mind in a rut while working, pause what you’re doing, press play on a favorite song and dance around the room for the whole tune. One of my personal favourites is taking a walk, even if it’s just down the street or around the block. Changing the pace gives your brain permission to access the here and now--even if for only a short while.
Practice healthy sleeping habits: Insomnia is very real for some people and getting the right amount of sleep every night is a challenge. Those who exhibit insomnia symptoms can find it difficult to fall into deep sleep long enough to feel well-rested. This, of course, can lead to mood-swings and the inability to focus on important tasks. Not sleeping can also weaken the immune system, leaving the body open for viruses to take hold. Manage your time and set healthy boundaries so the desire to stay up too late or rise too early in order to finish a deadline rarely happens. Getting regular sleep sets you up for success and to be the best version of yourself.
Explore: Titillate your muse with an outdoor adventure. Channel the sleeping child within all of us by tackling an activity that frightens you. Pushing your comfort zone to the limit is a healthy behaviour that grows confidence and builds self-esteem. Nature is healing and being in it can provide an additional opportunity to practice mindfulness. Try monitoring your breath, the smell of the fresh air, the sound of your steps as you walk. Internally deconstruct what listening to a running stream or the pounding force of a waterfall slapping the surface below is like then digest the emotions that follow.
All of these methods of self-care can be done by anyone anywhere, especially while travelling. Practice is the crucial piece of the resiliency puzzle. If the concepts of mindfulness and self-care are new to you, try making a list or a schedule of the habits you would like to incorporate into your daily routine. Check them off as you complete them and note which makes a positive impact on your wellbeing. Keep practicing and you’ll start to adapt to these behaviours and will find it easier to let go of things you can’t control. Change your approach by changing your mind and you will be surprised to see how much you grow as a person..
Meredith San Diego is a nomadic freelance writer, content creator and the executive editor of the travel blog www.bagladymeredithsandiego.com.
Silhouette of a person practicing mindfulness