Living on the road can be an exciting adventure. It is also stressful, especially when you spend more time traveling from show to show than relaxing at home. Some of the things people normally do to reduce stress, like taking a day off or turning off social media, can be helpful, but most advice of this nature is designed for people who have the safety of home to return to each night. When you’re on the road, it can be a different hotel every night or a busload of people with no room for quiet. There’s a constant rush to get from here to there, demands from every direction, and almost no time to just stop and enjoy the moment or even take a deep breath. All of this wears on your mind, body, and soul after a while. Let’s take a look at the top five things you can do to help manage your mental health, so the work you started loving doesn’t end up becoming something you dread each day.
Take Care of Your Body
Your physical health has a huge impact on your mental health. Ask anyone with chronic pain or other ongoing health issues. It can be difficult to eat healthy on the road, but it can be done. Invest in a small fridge or cooler so you can keep healthy snacks on hand. Try looking for roadside rest stops that will allow you and the crew a chance to fire up a grill or enjoy a meal you picked up at a local grocery store. This gives you a chance to eat healthily and allows the food to be digested in a less stressful environment. As for exercise, there may not be much room on a bus or in a car, but pull up some videos from YouTube when you stop for the night and do a quick, compact exercise routine, like yoga. As an alternative, take time when you stop for the night to take a walk or simply put on some music and dance.
Consider Alternative Accommodations
Instead of sleeping on the bus or staying at yet another hotel, why not stay at one of the hundreds of BNB places that can be found everywhere these days. If your stops aren’t too far apart, you may be able to book a few nights. This environment will give you the feel of a home away from home. Everyone has more space, a place to cook a real meal, and a nice, soft bed.
Stay Socially Connected
Yes, you are probably surrounded by people every day, but that isn’t the same as having a safe person to unwind with. Make sure you have a friend or family member who has nothing to do with your occupation that you can check in with regularly. If you don’t have someone who you feel you can vent to and who can help you unwind, consider finding a mental health counselor who is willing to work with you on the phone or through video. Keeping all that stress inside will only end up creating more internal chaos.
You will be surrounded by many individuals who may self-medicate rather than actively work out mental health issues. You may be tempted to take pills to stay awake, have a few drinks to fall asleep, or just indulge in drugs or alcohol to overcome the feelings of depression or overwhelm that may exist. The trouble is, these behaviors only add more trouble to your life. If you are already spending time self-medicating, stopping now will help you start to gain control of your life. Reaching out for help takes strength and courage, but you aren’t living life on the road because you are short on either of these.
Nourish Your Spirit
Nourishing your spirit can take many forms. For some, it is a religious practice. For others, it is some other form of formal spirituality. For still others, it can be as simple as a quiet walk along a beach where you concentrate on the waves and realize that you are not alone in this vast universe. Spirituality and mental health have been shown to go hand-in-hand to help many people with mental well-being. The point is to clear your mind of the current chaos and see that you are part of something so much more vast than you see. When you think about the natural order that is the universe and that you are part of that, it can bring you a sense of peace that helps you navigate the rougher waters.
You want to give your best to those around you. You can only do this when you are at your best and feeling happy and fulfilled. Following the above advice will help ease the stress you feel from constant views of a highway out the window. Life on the road isn’t a lifestyle for everyone, but if it is something you enjoy, keep the enjoyment going by focusing on your entire being — mind, body, and spirit.
uhs.umich.edu – Ten Things You Can Do For Your Mental Health
learnhowtobecome.org – Staying Healthy While Traveling for Work Guide to Maintaining Your Diet and Fitness on a Business Trip
sunshinebehavioralhealth.com – Holistic Treatment for Drug & Alcohol Addiction
frontiersin.org – The Relationship Between Spirituality, Health-Related Behavior, and Psychological Well-Being
Tasnova Malek, MD, graduated from Bangladesh Medical College and practiced as a primary care physician for six years in Bangladesh. After moving to the USA, she worked at Emory University Hospital in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine and Hospital medicine research. During COVID-19, she worked as a crisis counselor in Florida Corona Virus Emergency Response Team. Currently, she is working in the National Suicidal Prevention Center. In addition, she has extensive research experience in medicine and psychiatry in the USA.