Self Care on the Journey

I’m a pro when it comes to deliberately finding time for self-care…when I’m at home in my comfort zone. Bubble baths, a relatively strict social calendar (social one night means alone the next, etc.) and recognizing what my body needs is my norm.

While traveling, we are literally in a whole new world. The time zone is different, the food is different, our bed is strange, and we’re surrounded by people who often don’t speak our language. Our routines get thrown out the window. And, if you’re anything like me, you’re trying to do and see as much as humanly possible. It’s a recipe for exhaustion. Here are some tips for how to keep your sanity, and take care of yourself!

Pack a small treat for yourself

One of the people I met in the hostel in Istanbul had brought a small pack of Mint Milanos, which he kindly shared with a small group of us. It was not only fun to watch our new German and French friends taste this delightful cookie, but it was also a nice reminder of home. From now on, I’ll be packing some small comfort food. Sometimes a tea bag or a favorite chocolate bar is all you need to bring you home for just a moment.

Mini Mint Milanos!

Bet you didn’t know that Mini Mint Milanos Existed! NOM NOM NOM

Keep yourself organized

Living out of a suitcase, no matter how big or small, can be tricky. I always start out with great expectations to keep everything in its place, make sure I know exactly where everything is, and not make a mess of my room. I always fail. I get back to the hostel or the hotel room, usually exhausted, or focused on socializing, that everything gets tossed in. So once a week, while abroad, I make sure to tidy up. It takes about 10 minutes and saves me a lot of anxiety the rest of the week. This is also a good time to wash any clothes that are getting a little stinky, if necessary. Feeling clean is also important!

Stay inside for a day

Sometimes, the greatest give you can give yourself is a break. Put your feet up, read a book, drink tea, and well, do as little as possible. It’s okay to take a day off and not see things. If you don’t see everything, which is impossible anyways, you’ll be fine. It’s okay to even miss the “must see” places! On my very last day in Turkey, I was utterly exhausted and sick of getting harassed by the salesmen. I couldn’t imagine the idea of trying to find my way around the winding streets to see another (probably fabulous) mural or piece of history. So instead, I stayed in the hostel, almost the entire day. I read a book and slept. It was glorious. Do I regret not going to tour more? Not even a little bit.

Connect with your roots

Even though you may be thousands of miles away, we are fortunate to live in a time of technology, when it’s easy to reach out to the people who know you and love you the most. I have a friend who was recently traveling in India for a couple of weeks and found herself overwhelmed, exhausted, and homesick. She posted on Facebook that she needed some love, support, and permission for self care even though she felt like she *should* be out exploring. Her friends came to her rescue and encouraged, reminded her that she’s not the first person to have this feeling, and gave her the permission she needed to rest.

No matter if you are gone for one week or 5, remembering to take care of yourself will go a long way in helping you enjoy your journey.

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Adjustments

I am restless.
I hadn’t really seriously considered what would happen when I returned home. I had general plans that involved getting a cat, doing online dating again, and joining the church. Interestingly I no longer am sure that I want to do any of those things. It has been much harder than I expected to rejoin normal life.  As I told my colleague  it’s strange to have left Portland feeling 100% satisfied with my life, only to return and not be so sure anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not unhappy, I’m just left wondering, what else is there? What are the other possibilities for my life? It’s disconcerting because it’s more comfortable to be feeling 100% satisfied. I’ve worked incredibly hard to get the life I have. I finally have a job that I love, a home that brings me comfort, and an amazing group of friends who bring me joy. Yet there’s some piece of me that wants to uproot all of that, to challenge myself and what my life could be.
As the days move on, I find myself relaxing back into daily life a little bit more, but I’m also hoping to hold onto the adventurous side of myself that had been in dormition for the last few years. I want to take some leaps of faith, challenge myself, and just see what happens.
Also, I want to save money for another trip. Next time… Morocco? Thailand? Peru?
Here are some things I miss about Turkey:
-Turkish Tea
-Fresh fruit and nuts everywhere, not just at the farmers market once a week
Things I don’t miss about Turkey:
-Getting hit on every second by all of the merchants
-Dodging traffic
Things I love about being home:
-My friends and family
-My bath tub
Here’s to new adventures, at home and abroad.