Did you ever get up in the morning (with those lonely post-travel blues) ?
For fellow globetrotters there may be times when we find ourselves a little beaten having withdrawn from a typical life pattern and come back to being amongst people who haven’t deviated from this pattern. Unlike the case of ‘I am legend’ (starring Will Smith) we may actually want to live amongst these people, some of who we may happen to be related to… Fitting back in can also help to give us that sense of normality that we have voluntarily disrupted. So how do we do it? What stops us from continuing to picture ourselves in Tokyo clubs long past sunrise, in a sweaty Edinburgh warehouse, on the cobblestones of temple bar (Dublin), on the back of a tuk tuk somewhere in Asia, in our 5 bedroom shared apartment that is actually housing 9 people or eating pasteis de nata (Portugese custard tarts, well worth trying, available at woolies for Australians, and no I wasn’t paid for that product placement…) cheaply on frequent occasions? Well of course the answer will vary from person to person.
For those of us who are predisposed toward literature, writing is a top rate way of paying homage to your experience, working through the possible anxiety about what happens next for you, and sharing your gift of the pen with others (no intended link to your GTG of course…). This may be in the form of a personal diary/journal, a blog, a book or even regular magazine column (if anyone’s offering 🙂 ). The idea here is treating your post travel (pre-new-life) dilemma like any others you will have experienced in life, if you’re a writer, write about it.
To refer to a previous gtg topic, keeping touch is a great way to feel connected to places, people, and times that you have loved over the years, you don’t have to leave everything behind just because you leave somewhere (unless of course you owe people money or are wanted for petty crimes such as having too much fun/buying out the local take away shop). As mentioned, this is now easier than ever to do, you will feel like a better friend, and you can keep pestering people to come and visit you.
Re-connect with old friends in a new way. Depending on the age you have traveled and how long you have been away, getting back to your hometown will mean meeting people as if for the first time (they even look different, trust me). The fun part about this is you get to discover new things you like about them, a former high school crush, now they have found their perfect boyfriend can become the perfect dancing partner and so on.
Keep active. This is a tip for people who may be a bit down in general, chemically proven y’all, exercise=happy. For those over-achievers amongst us, you can even work muli-tasking into this one. Riding your bike to visit a friend, walking down a long street with your CVs (with the help of a trusty antiperspirant), walking instead of driving to the local supermarket for small bits of shopping, checking your post office mail box are all examples of exercise with multiple outcomes.
Identify your personal interests that follow you kicking and screaming from place to place and find a way to make them a part of your regular routine. Meetup.com is a groundbreaking site for social groups with common interests. I have joined groups through meetup in a number of places and made new friends, discovered new places to socialise and learned a thing or two in the process. You can even start your own group (tupperware parties are vetoed) if you have an un-tapped interest and get a following. Fortnightly social meetings at a bar or cafe are the trend of such groups if you’re curious. A link to this site has been put on the GTG home page.
For workaholics such as myself, and some less clinically deranged, simply re-commencing employment will help in many ways. Having money when you meet people you want to socialise with, meeting people to socialise with, reminding yourself of your capabilities, developing your skills, breaking up a monotonous routine (Days of our lives fans must know how bad it gets) and give you a change of scenery at the very least.
I would like to make the clear distinction at this point between depression related to the travel itself and depression on return. The research on both these topics is highly limited so don’t be alarmed by cautionary works such as Schlagenhauf and Steffen (2006) who paint a bleak and overly cautionary picture of the negative psychological affects of travel. The therapeutic effects are well known to any of us who have read (or watched), eat pray love, Javier Bardim, what’s a girl to do? Some of you may have even figured it out without the help of hollywood and Julia Roberts. Although putting together your weekly dose of globetrotting musings might seem inconsistent, travel has helped me immensely to become less of a recluse, and know myself to the point where we can have disagreements.
Another simple tip is to make regular ‘to do lists’ and make a decent attempt at seeing them crossed off. Short of living in a vacuum it is unlikely that we will be able to get away with doing absolutely nothing, even something as basic as waking up can go on there if you are really pushed for ideas. Bonuses of this include feeling both more productive and organised.
The quicker you recognise your condition the swifter the bounce-back, and let’s face it, if you’ve traveled, chances are you will have had more serious bouncing back to do in your days. Find what works for you personally and don’t be hesitant in involving others in your return to normality, plenty of people want to play the good guy and you can bore them with endless stories and names of people they will probably never meet :).
Other cautions include falling back into familiar routines, replace them wherever you can with good times, and the things you have always talked about wanting to do but never gotten around to. Short of these ideas, the GTG is extremely interested to know how you manage coming home from a trip, if you came home at all, and of course what you thought of eat pray love, so leave your comments and any questions you have for future dissection. Till what I truly hope will be next week.