Take the stress out

Clear the path for the inner journey

Cristina Di Loreto
July 3, 2014

“Travel far enough, you meet yourself.”

― David Mitchell


While travel can be exciting, it can be upsetting, too: everything is unfamiliar, from food to language and the basic landmarks of your surroundings. You are removed from your familiar routine. Plus, of course, the best-made plans will inevitably be derailed by things beyond your control. While some people might thrive on the disorientation and the challenge of improvising when plans go awry, others find it stressful.


A few months ago, a friend of mine said to me, ‘You know, every time you travel it’s an inner journey, and you discover something new about yourself.’ Her observation changed my perspective on travel and I began to think about how our responses to the stresses of travel are obstacles to that inner journey, getting in the way of the discovery and joy.


Here are six tips to keeping the path of your inner journey clear of emotional obstacles.

1. Every time you get angry about something, ask yourself why. For some, anger is an automatic reaction to the stress of being removed from routine and familiar surroundings. Asking yourself, in the moment, why you feel that way is the best way to cool off the ‘fire’ of this impulsive reaction. You will get to know yourself better and be able to handle new situations more calmly.


2. Try to make a memory for each sense. Activating your senses and staying connected to them is a wonderful way to deepen your experience and distract yourself from reactions to stress. For example, here in Florence, you might focus on the aroma of wine, the piquant taste of olive oil, the sound of the Duomo’s bells, the sight of the David and the feel of Tuscany’s leather products at San Lorenzo market.


3. Find a place, picture or moment to describe to one meaningful person back at home. When you find the moment, place or object you want to describe, ask yourself why you’ve chosen it and why for that person in particular, and then share it in a postcard or letter.


4. Treat yourself to something pleasurable every day. It could be a coffee in a special setting, like piazzale Michelangelo, or a glass of fine wine, a dinner, or it could be something you usually do when you’re at home, like running, singing or painting, something that brings you pleasure and that makes you feel good about yourself.


5. Ask the locals for suggestions.Asking them for advice means that you’ll often find a great ‘plan B’ when your plans go awry—from an interesting place to eat or see to an alternative route.


6. Find a beautiful view to keep forever. Take an internal snapshot of something that you find evokes inner peace, and recall it to mind when you feel yourself becoming annoyed or upset by bumps in the road. The views from the monastery of S. Francesco in Fiesole, for example, are so breathtaking that they may quickly become imprinted on your mind’s eye for life.

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