How To Keep Your Mind Healthy When Traveling Long-Haul

psychology of traveling

The opportunity to travel across the world and experience a new culture or a new way of life is one that shouldn’t be missed. Before you travel it’s important to make sure that you have the correct documents in place, be sure to complete your ESTA visa application, if this applies, at Although most of us look forward to taking trips, traveling to a different time zone, whether it’s for work or for pleasure, can take a toll on the health of our mind and body. If you’re heading on a long-haul flight this summer, here are some tips on how to keep your mind healthy.

Maintain Your Sleeping Pattern

Despite most people feeling at their best when they have had between six and eight hours of sleep, it’s possible to function on as little as four or five for a short period of time. It’s important to remember this when flying at an inconvenient time. Make sure that you keep to a sleeping pattern, ensure that you wake up when it is daytime and fall asleep at night—even if you have to force yourself to stay awake. Waking with the sun will help your melatonin production cycles to reset themselves, which will help you to feel tired at the right time later in the day.

Keep Busy

When you arrive at your destination and are suffering from jet lag it is a good idea to keep yourself active. If you’re on holiday, throw yourself into exploring the area or if you are traveling for business purposes setting up everything you need to work abroad. Keeping yourself occupied makes the prefrontal region of your brain active, which reduces the potential for lack of sleep to catch up with you and cause you to crash out in the middle of the day. It shouldn’t take long for the jet lag to subside but staying busy will help to keep you healthy and stick to a normal sleeping pattern.

Stay Positive

The first few days in a new time zone are going to be difficult, regardless of how well you prepare yourself. You may find yourself feeling tired and unwell but it is best to take a positive mental approach towards it. Remind yourself that jet lag is only temporary and you will soon be able to enjoy being in your destination. According to Psychology Today, this is known as ‘reappraising’ a feeling, or altering your perspective on an event which makes it easier to manage.

It’s good to know that over time traveling long-haul is reported to get easier, so the more trips you take the easier it will become to adapt to a new time zone. If you’re finding it difficult, remember the many benefits of traveling from seeing a new area of the world to learning about a different culture. Studies carried out by the American Psychological Association have found that traveling can even make people more creative, as they are encouraged to find creative solutions to problems such as language barriers!

Image courtesy of Nicolas Stettler