Hello, I’ve been thinking about how I maintain my mental health on the road. Maybe you could use these ideas also!
These are some challenges of travel that I struggle with.
- access to food that’s ok for my body’s needs
- uncomfortable car
- swollen ankles
- so many different beds for my body to get used to
- strong smells in different places we stay
- is the water here ok to drink?
- feeling all kinds of vulnerable
- racist / xenophobic areas of Idaho and northern Nevada where Ming and I were being treated rudely
- needing rest when I’m supposed to be doing other things–timing
- understanding various showers, expectations of different places we stay, how to use the lights and ac
- too much newness and input
Is travel easy for you? What’s difficult? Various disabilities affect us in different ways.
how I maintain my mental health on the road
Self care and community care are my life. There are a lot of things I do on the road that I also do at home. But here are some ways that I maintain my mental health on the road.
keep reaching out to friends
It’s easy to get distracted, but maintaining social connections helps me feel safe and like I’m ok. Also if my friends know what’s going on in my life, they can give me their smart perspectives.
Friends also helped a lot when Ming asked for donations. It’s good to keep in touch with my dear ones, even when I feel too exhausted to skillfully connect.
My friends are understanding and undemanding. So they know I’m going through a lot, and they are very kind to me.
My body is an animal who needs walks, dance, stimming. Even when I’m on the road, I need to be kind to her. It’s easy for me to get single-minded or so tired that movement is the last thing I want to do. But I’m committed to my health, and movement isn’t optional!
It doesn’t have to look like what other people see as exercise. Special shoes and clothes are irrelevant. I do it in my own way.
My heart needs to stay strong, my lymph needs to move about, and my organs and all of my tissues need to be nourished by vigorous blood flow. Sitting in a car for hours is not what’s best for me! So I need to compensate.
Gratitude journaling and the other daily things Ming and I do to have good attitudes become even more important during travel. I love gratitude journaling as a way that Ming and I share truth with one another.
This search for home makes for big feelings. I’m not a toxic positivity person who wants to live in denial. But it’s true–I can always find five things to be grateful for, and it’s actually fun. I need more simple fun in my life! Fun is free.
Prayer is a lot like gratitude journaling. I thank Mother God for my blessings, and I feel more organized when I tell her what we need, what’s most important to me. Prayer helps me understand my own needs and motivations; I hear what I say and realize my own values.
Contact with sacred is healing, and whether or not any deity is listening, I am always listening. Often I pray with Ming, so he is too.
magnesium glycinate and oatstraw
These substances are available and legal, and I use them for different purposes. Magnseiusm glycinate helps my muscles relax, and helps my whole self relax. It can be a way to change my mood when I feel too up or need to wind down for sleep.
It also helps with menstrual cramps. If my back is sore or my calves are tight, I love magnesium glycinate. If I’m panicking, it doesn’t feel productive, and I’d like to reroute myself, magnesium glycinate can help.
Oatstraw is more powerful–I have some oatstraw tea with me and some ground oatstraw powder. Recently I was too up and needed rest, so I took a disposable water bottle that had just two inches of water in it, put about a teaspoon and a half of ground oatstraw in there, and shook it for a while. It looked yuckie but actually tasted pretty good. I was out in about 15 minutes and had a great night’s sleep.
I thought I was getting allergic to oatstraw, but I was cold brewing it in the fridge and having it often during a stressful time. Maybe I overdid it. This once in a blue moon use is fine.
Thank you always to Chaya Grossberg for teaching me about oatstraw! I mention it to people as a powerful herb in my wellness toolkit, and they mostly have never heard of it.
Then cbd is the “big guns.” My adult psychiatric nurse prescribed me a prn sedative years ago that I never took. Cbd is like a diy last resort prn for me. A way to keep myself out of the hospital or just get some relief when I’m truly miserable.
I don’t use cbd much because it feels extremely uncomfortable around 36 hours later when it wears off. But when I get desperate, it’s great. Benedryl is similar. If it helps avert a manic episode, I’ll take it.
feeling my feelings
Nothing like crying, being honest, telling the truth, retreating when I need to, welcoming anger and other emotions I don’t enjoy, and being who I am. The world wants certain things from me–the world can find those things elsewhere.
I have a lot of emotions, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m on earth to feel–this body is to feel with. Repression is not my project. Feeling my feelings is an honor, and I’ll do that as much as I can in ways that hopefully don’t harm others.
If everyone felt their feelings when they needed to, to the full extent, there would be so much less violence in the world. In my experience, violence comes after feelings have been pushed down too long, and they erupt against the will of the suffering person. By then it’s too late, and they are just lashing and harm.
If we can feel them bit by bit in a safe way, we don’t need to be afraid of them. That idea is a foundation of my wellness and something I associate strongly with radical mental health. I’m ok feeling anything, as long as the feelings keep moving. Mostly they get stuck when I deny them or think they’re too big, and I’m not strong enough to feel them.
It’s like giving birth to a baby. Yeah, it’s going to hurt and might damage you and rend you. But you’re strong enough. Probably you will survive. A lot of your ancestors did this. It’s not comfortable or easy, but the reward is great.