How to Shake the Post-Travel Blues
Prior to September, I had been traveling for six months. I had seen England, Italy, Spain, France, The Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland and had been constantly moving for an extended period of time. My life was in a suitcase, I had to make snap decisions every moment of the day, and I ventured into the unknown constantly. It was stressful, it was mentally strenuous, but my God was it thrilling! As the trip was nearing it’s end, I was both mentally and physically exhausted and ready to resume my life in Seattle. Until I got back on the plane…
As the flight took off, I remember bawling my eyes out, hoping the person next to me would think I was just watching an inflight chick flick. I quickly got it under control as I spent the remainder of the flight zoning out to mindless movies. As I landed, my emotions overtook me once again. I was back. Back to a “normal life”. Back to reality.
The next few weeks were strange. I quickly found an apartment, moved in, and started thinking about resuming a normal life. Within two weeks, I was back to a normal day to day schedule. It was horrible. I longed to go back to Europe on a daily basis.
Something about the constant repetitive actions ate away my soul. Tasks felt meaningless. School work seemed pointless. Conversations with friends lacked depth. Months prior, I had been let loose into the biggest playground – the world – only to return back to my little box. Low on cash from depleting my savings over the summer, an upcoming trip seemed unlikely and not in my distant future. I longed to travel again but the more I longed – the more I despised Seattle. Since I’ve been back in Seattle I’ve been miserable – up until recently.
While I refrained from telling anyone about how I was feeling, I wanted to write this post about how I overcame my trip back to reality in hopes that it will help someone else feeling the same way.
How I Overcame the Blues :
I changed up my workout routine – Instead of doing a repetitive hour on the elliptical, I started running and swimming again. Even the getting off the hamster wheel of routine for an hour a day can drastically improve your mood.
I started eating better – You are what you eat. If you eat shitty food – you feel like shit. I’ve gone back to (more or less) being vegetarian, not eating out, and have stopped living off diet soda and cup of noodles.
I reflected – Taking a step back allowed me to see the person I was becoming. I would start arguments over nothing and to put it nicely, was a pain in the ass. Looking back, all the arguments I had didn’t solve anything and only escalated my already bad mood. For this, I’m so sorry.
I started living vicariously through others – I read. and I read. and then I read some more. Hearing the inspirational stories of others allowed me to realize that I can change things where I already am. I don’t need to go halfway across the world to do it.
I got off the Internet – Replacing face to face time with friends with the Internet is a very bad idea. In general, friends make you feel good. Unfortunately, things like Twitter and Facebook also make you feel good. It’s extremely easy to latch on to a platform that provides you with instant gratification. Since banning myself from more than an hour a day on social networking sites – I’ve become more productive, I’ve been sleeping more, and my mood has significantly improved. Surround yourself with great people. People that make you laugh are the best medicine for any funk.
I started appreciating what I had- Instead of constantly thinking “I hate Seattle.” I started thinking about what I did love about Seattle. For months I would think “I wish I was in London because ____, _____, & _______ is so much better than Seattle.” When I stopped doing this, it helped me regain my love of the city and all it’s wonderful people. You can make the best out of any place with the right mindset.
I got some sleep – As another result of my funk I developed a ban case of insomnia. After returning to Seattle, I never completely kicked the jetlag and would stay up until 5am frequently. For months I would sleep only 2-5 hours. Looking back, it was really no wonder I had felt terrible so often. I was exhausted. Sleep = Happiness.
I left my apartment – It’s hard to venture outside when the weather is so freezing during the winter. Slowly, I began forcing myself to bundle up and go for walks. I would take the bus to Capital Hill, go for a walk around Greenlake, or simply browse some stores downtown. A change of scenery can instantly make your day better.
While it’s been a hard past few months, the last few weeks have been absolutely wonderful. I don’t think many people realize the side effects of a trip “back to reality” but I’ve learned that they can be overcome!