by: Sang Kromah
These days, you can’t go a day without reading or hearing something about self-care. If you’re still a little unsure of what it truly means, it’s basically, taking a proactive stance in your mental, emotional, social, spiritual and physical health in order to achieve and maintain holistic wellness.
It’s a great sentiment and I’m all for holistic wellness, but realistically, for most girls and women, it may not be so easy to put into practice.
In all of our awesomeness and as much as we slay, we have to work harder than our male counterparts to simply be acknowledged or receive equal pay. Thick skin is a must, but if we show too much strength, that tends to be a problem as well. Throw in PMS, the actual soul-sucking vampire that is the period (multiply this intensity by a trillion if you’re like me and have a chronic disease like endometriosis), and it is evident that self-care is a necessity and not a luxury.
The other day, I had a conversation with a friend, who’s exact words to me were, “I need self-care after I travel I travel alone because it is exhausting.”
I paused for a moment because, in my opinion, travel and exploration are key components of self-care. So, my response to her? “Sweetie, you’re doing it wrong.”
Travel is what I do to take care of myself. It’s an escape from the monotonous routines that our lives tend to be. When you travel alone, you are tailoring a trip to fit your individual needs. There’s freedom in not having to check in with a group or not having to miss out on opportunities because the rest of the group isn’t interested. Solo travel allows you to be unremorsefully selfish. It is your duty to YOU to prioritize your happiness and well-being above everything and everyone else. As I said earlier, self-care is about nurturing your mind, body, and spirit. And that’s exactly what solo travel does.
TRAVEL ALLOWS YOU TO BE SELFISH WITHOUT THE GUILT
From an early age, we are taught NOT to be selfish. In fact, it is often said that when you are lacking, you should give to others. Judge me if you want, but I think this line of thinking is flawed, because how can you nourish another when your own well has run dry? You have to give yourself permission to do things that are for and about you. While you are away, the only thing you owe to everyone else is respect; other than that, feel free to say no to the requests of others. You can go back to being selfless once you’ve been rejuvenated.
SOLO TRAVEL ALLOWS YOU TO UNPLUG AND LIVE
In our everyday lives, we’re always plugged in. From streaming movies and TV shows, checking email, or oversharing on social media, we’re surrounded by screens that detach us from the here and now. But unplugging opens you up to new experiences you might have missed while updating a status or commenting on a meme. You may not realize it, but even though technology makes life easier, a lot of the stress in our lives comes from social media. We’ve all picked up our phones or computers with the intention of just sneaking a peek at our newsfeed, but from reading one post to the next, then somehow, we’re reading the comment section and getting increasingly angry. Before you know it, you’ve wasted close to an hour and you feel bad about your lack of productivity. Okay now, imagine, waking up without bags beneath your eyes. Or making a friend from Australia that you may have missed if you had been focused on your phone. Unplugging helps you sleep better, improve your interpersonal communications and helps you recharge.
SOLO TRAVEL ALLOWS YOU TO BE ADVENTUROUS
In order to nurture your spirit, you need to have adventures, explore new environments, and experience the unexpected. That’s what travels does. It allows you to get uncomfortable, which isn’t a bad thing at all. Go hiking, parasailing, skiing, swim with dolphins, or anything else. The point is to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. When you’re put in situations where the outcome is uncertain, it prepares you to cope with life’s uncertainties.
SOLO TRAVEL BUILDS CONFIDENCE
Traveling independently teaches you to adapt to unexpected and/or new situations while being flexible with the outcome. No matter how well you plan a trip, there should always be room left for the unexpected. This kind of confidence can’t be replicated. You emerge more independent and comfortable in your own skin, because you have tackled something that many people have and will never experienced, and you were victorious.
SOLO TRAVEL OFFERS HEALING
Everyone needs some form of healing. Whether you suffer from depression, anxiety or are simply stressed out, we all live through life-changing events and need some form of healing. I get that these life-changing moments are supposed to make you stronger, but being strong doesn’t mean you don’t need care. There’s a healing power in traveling that can’t be duplicated at home. This healing process calls for a change of scenery, where you can release your inhibitions. You’re free to cry how you want, scream if need be, or laugh at the most awkward moments without the worry of running into someone you know. I went to Bali on a solo trip to heal a broken heart and it was a life-changing experience for me. I cried with women who traveled for healing as well and I forged friendships that I wouldn’t trade for the world.
SOLO TRAVEL BROADENS YOUR HORIZON
Whether you travel domestically or abroad, solo travel changes your way of seeing things. As a writer, this is crucial for me. Even though I write fiction and most of the worlds I build come from the darkest corners of my mind, seeing new places and meeting new people opens my minds up to fresh ideas that I would not have been able to conceive otherwise. Traveling gives you a global perspective, allowing you to approach people and ideas with an open mind. You tend to be less judgmental and little kinder once you’ve traveled and have had experiences with people whose backgrounds differ from yours, but who share the same lust for life as you. You return home, willing to listen a little harder and less likely to judge someone without knowing them.
SOLO TRAVEL OFFERS REFLECTIVENESS
This is almost an extension of unplugging, but it has to be said. These days, because we’re always plugged in, we’re left with no conscious time to reflect. Adventures and new experiences often bring back memories of past experiences that may have been forgotten or suppressed. Once these new experiences settle in, they’re tied to the past, offering us a chance to think about a past that we’ve been too busy or “plugged-in” to remember. Being able to tie present experiences to past ones, builds the capacity for us to learn more about ourselves.
SOLO TRAVEL IS MORE PRODUCTIVE
One of the best parts of solo travel is being able to do exactly what you want without the input or opinions of others. This is your opportunity to get those spa treatments you never have time to get at home, start yoga and work on your Warrior’s Pose, read that book you’ve had on your Goodreads To-be-read list for ages, be as adventurous as you want without friends telling you how lame it is or how something else would be better.
SOLO TRAVELERS MEET MORE PEOPLE
This is a common misconception where solo travel is concerned. You may arrive at your destination on your own, but once you arrive, the only way you won’t meet new people is if you close yourself off to meeting new people, which is totally fine if that is your preference. But this is an opportunity to meet people from diverse backgrounds who are wanterlusting as well, who have shared interests. If you had traveled with your friends and you wanted to go on a tour or take a class, they may not have wanted to, influencing you not to go. But if you travel alone and choose to partake in one of those activities, you will meet other like-minded people once there. Many times, when travelers are in ready-made groups, they may seem unapproachable to those who may want to introduce themselves. People also tend to be kinder when they travel alone. Maybe it’s because the pack mentality tends to make people revert to their former high school-selves in a “you can’t sit with us” type of way.
SOLO TRAVEL IS ABOUT SELF-DISCOVERY
Solo travel gives you the opportunity to spend time with yourself. It’s an opportunity to discover things about yourself that may shock you. You may learn you’re more confident than you thought or you’re more fearless than you’ve given yourself credit for. This is an opportunity to explore new places, foods, people and yourself, so be fearless, scare yourself. And no one says you have to go throwing yourself off something high. This could be as simple as having dinner alone at a sidewalk bistro, going to a concert alone and dancing by yourself or simply doing the tourist activities that some people think they’re too cool for. The point is, make it about you!