Travelers, Take Heed: What Being Separated From the World Does to Your Well-being

PHOTO: DavidTB / Shutterstock

And how you can protect yourself.

These are unprecedented times and everyone is hurting. No matter where or who you are, we are all feeling the repercussions of social distancing, social isolation, and quarantine. Travelers, in particular, are surely feeling uncomfortably restless–being cooped up in one place isn’t exactly comforting for those of us who have grown to rely on moving from place to place or city to city, for work or otherwise. Regardless of who you are, though, it’s a scary time and it’s important to remember that despite how it may feel, you are not alone. We are all going through this, together, albeit separately.

Many times throughout the day, I have to remind myself that even though we’re not seeing those we love in person, they are still there–and more importantly, you are still here. It’s important to stay present, try not to panic, and take care of your health and wellbeing. Isolating oneself can harm mental health, but if you take some precautions and check in with yourself frequently to ask, “What do I need right now to feel safe?” you will get through this–we all will. Here are some things that have been helping me, from one socially-isolated traveler to another.

Use Google Hangouts or FaceTime with Friends and Family

We are social people–as individuals, we don’t just enjoy social interaction, we actually need it. So, when you deprive yourself of the social interaction your body needs, it can manifest in often unpleasant ways (anxiety, depression, anger, fear, etc). This is why it is imperative at this time that, while we are practicing social distancing from our friends, family, and literally every other human on the planet, we do not completely isolate ourselves.

Staying social during isolation requires getting a little creative–and using a lot of technology. Use the tricks you’ve learned in your travels to stay in touch. This could mean FaceTiming and Google Hangouts–planning daily group conversations, or even activities. Try playing games together online remotely (Steam is a great service for this, among others). Or, perhaps, just pour yourself a glass of wine and have a happy hour meeting post-work (from home) with a few friends.

INSIDER TIPWith Netflix Party, you can stream Netflix movies and shows on your computers with your friends.

Stay Physically Active

Many of us are not leaving or cannot leave our homes right now. This, of course, means we aren’t generally moving, and that lack of physical activity can take a toll on our mental health (as well as, obviously, our physical health). This is why it is important to keep a daily workout, even when confined to your home. You can do this easily with streaming services like Amazon Prime, as well as YouTube exercise videos.

Check out 21 Day Transformation from Amazon Prime (episode five is strictly cardio and can be done in close quarters–trust me, I live in a very small studio apartment and have made it work!).

Limit News but Stay Informed

Limiting the amount of news injected into your brain is important. Don’t live on social media and take in all information like its air, because–especially on social media–not all information is good information. That said, it’s important to stay connected and informed to what is going on in your community and the world as this will help with long term social isolation issues. Stay connected to friends and family, but don’t live on your phone.

Note: We are doing our best on Fodor’s to balance stories on our site as well as our social media that keep you informed as well as distracted. For our full editorial stance during the current time of global pandemic, please read these words from our editorial director.

Talk About Your Feelings

It is extremely important right now that you don’t hoard things, and this includes your feelings, people. 

It is extremely important right now that you don’t hoard things, and this includes your feelings, people. Now, although this should be canon for life in general, it’s vital in this time. First thing’s first–if you need to talk to a professional, you should. Many therapists’ offices are going digital, offering Skype appointments that comply with government social distancing recommendations. If you can talk to a professional, and feel as if you need to, do it! At the very least, talk to trusted family and friends. It’s easy to feel alone in these times, especially if you are quarantined by yourself. But as a traveler remember–there’s a whole world of people out there.

INSIDER TIPIf you are someone who cannot afford a therapist but feels you would benefit from one, Open Path Collective offers affordable, online psychotherapy sessions between $30 and $60. 

Reach Out to Friends in Compromised Living Situations

While many people are comfortably social distancing themselves in their homes, it’s easy to forget that not everyone lives in a comfortable, or even healthy, home environment. If you (or someone you know) are living in an abusive or unhealthy living situation during this time, you can reach out to mental health professionals or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline. There is help.

Follow Positive Accounts Online

It’s amazing how much better I feel after watching Instagram videos of ducks or penguins hopping down a staircase. I can feel the serotonin rushing through my body and am truly revitalized, if even for a moment. A few accounts I truly love include Will Smith’s Instagram, Dr. Nicole LePera (the holistic psychologist), Jessica Yellin’s Instagram, this hilarious woman who lately has been yelling at the coronavirus a lot, Jessica Lanyadoo, extremely cute animal accounts, and, of course, the account “bonkers4memes.” And of course, keep up on your travel inspiration.

Go On a Walk

In addition to an at-home workout, it’s also important to get outside. If you can, try and take a walk (while following social distancing guidelines) every day, if even for a little bit, even if it’s just a walk down the street or a block. Striving to do something physical every single day is very important, and if going for a walk works better for you than a home workout, do that instead.

Clean Often

It’s amazing how much better I feel after watching Instagram videos of ducks or penguins hopping down a staircase. 

The CDC recommends practicing routine cleaning of areas that you frequently touch in the home–doorknobs, light switches, handles, cupboards, countertops, etc. Wash your hands, keep stuff clean, and dust (especially if you have asthma or respiratory problems). Not only will this keep you physically safe, but a clean home generally means a cleaner mind. And, frankly, my mind is a little messy right now, as are many people’s brains, so, a nice, clean environment helps.

Focus on Breathwork and Affirmations

Meditation works to eliminate the relentless mind chatter that is flying through your brain at all moments of the day, and with everything a little quieter lately (and everyone staying in one place), we are much more vulnerable to that chatter. If you’re afraid of flying, you can use the same techniques to get you through a plane ride to get you through your day. Focusing on your breathing works to calm you down. Anxiety can affect you physically, so being mindful of when this is happening and then focusing on breathing into the area in your body where you feel it manifesting can help to calm you down. The simplest way to start meditating is breathwork (literally just focusing on breathing) for 5-10 minutes a day.

INSIDER TIPIf you’re someone who uses apps for meditation, Insight Timer is free and has many different types of meditations for specific situations—from trouble sleeping to panic attacks, etc. This is a helpful tool for anyone wanting to learn how to calm anxiety with breathing exercises.

Put Work Stuff Away When the Workday Is Over

This may seem like a no-brainer, but when the workday is over, put your work away if possible–especially if you live in a small space. This will reduce the feeling of claustrophobia and being cooped up in one place when working from home.

Your home may be your workspace right now, but it’s still your home–so, when work is over, it’s over. Hide that work laptop in a damn closet if you have to–just do the best you can with the space you have.

Try to Maintain as Healthy of a Diet as Possible

Getting groceries and supplies isn’t as snap-of-the-fingers easy lately, with delivery services being affected and lines out the door at the grocery store. That said, remember not to hoard or panic buy, but do make sure to get yourself nutrient-rich foods to keep your body healthy. This is not just for physical reasons, but mental–the food you eat affects your mind, after all. So, if you can, pick up some canned or frozen vegetables to have on hand, as well as grains like rice or pasta. Beans and vegetarian chilis are also good to have in your cupboards, and are nutrient-rich. Dream about the traditional foods you will eat once you’re back in action all over the world–or better yet, order take out from local, family-owned restaurants.

Remember the Outside World

If you’re reading this post, you probably love Fodor’s and traveling but are obviously are unable to act on it. Someday, however, that won’t be the case. Keep dreaming of faraway places, even if you can’t get there right now. It will be there in some form or another when we come out on the other side of this. Until then, see you here, on our website, where we will continue to bring you stories from around the world, even when we’re all stuck in one place.

See you in your homes–but, like, not in a creepy way. Ugh, I ruined it, didn’t I. See ya.

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