On the Road Again (or some tips for working in self-care when you travel)

you are here update

Most of us struggle with self-care when we’re right at home.  Put us in an airplane and fly us half-way across the country and self-care goes completely out the jet window.  It just seems too complicated to work in when our usual resources aren’t at our fingertips.  But, if you are anything like me, you land back home sick and tired and realize you actually didn’t have the time not to take care of yourself while you were on the road.  Want to create a strategy for self-care while you are traveling?  Try these four steps.

Know your minimum and ideal self-care so you can strategize for the road.  What do you need at the bare minimum to be reasonably well mentally and physically?  Write a list. My minimum self-care includes six hours of sleep per night, exercising at least 3 days a week, ten minutes of pleasure reading before bed, drinking at least 50 ounces of water a day, having a reasonable daily work plan, and working minimally on the weekends.

What is ideal for your self-care?  For me, it includes these tweaks or additions:  eight hours of sleep a night, at least fives days of exercise a week, limited sugar and caffeine, and sitting outside for at least five minutes daily.

When traveling, pre-plan for how you will get in your minimum self-care or in what areas you can hit your ideals.

Know your travel absolutes.  What are musts when you travel?  For example, I can only sleep in a dark, cool, silent space so I don’t take red-eyes.  I don’t love carrying a lot of stuff that I won’t use so I pack pretty minimally.  I hate doing my hair while I am out of town so I usually take the time to blow out my hair before I leave town so that I don’t have to carry all the hair cream in the world to manage the curls or put time into my hair while I am away.  Whatever happens to be true for your needs when you travel, write them down and keep them in mind when you make plans.

Look ahead and plan accordingly for travel.  Every trip is unique so consider individual nuances. What amenities are available to you?  What do you need in order to give yourself at least the minimum self-care you need?  When I fly, I buy the biggest water available as soon as I cross through security. I also pack healthy snacks in my bag because I am not sure when I’ll get a chance to eat (and what will be available to me).  I book hotel chains that I am familiar with so I have sense of what breakfast will be or what amenities I’ll have available to me.  I might get all my workouts in before I travel so I don’t have to worry about them while I am on the road.  Thinking it through beforehand insures that I don’t return home run down.

Have some fun.  Travel shouldn’t be without some fun so try to incorporate some things that add to your sense of well being while you are on the road that you cannot do as easily as home.  I devote at least half of every flight to reading, something I don’t have as much time for at home.  I go to bed earlier since I don’t have to rush around the house completing chores after my son’s bedtime.  I try to see long distance friends.  Incorporate unique things that will boost your sense of wellbeing while you are away and you are far more likely to return home energized rather than exhausted.

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