travellers are likely to be subject to particular stresses
whilst travelling, certainly until they've reached a certain
plateau of self-confidence and familiarity with cultural
"rules". Keeping a constant vigil against sexual harassment,
feeling nervous about appearing vulnerable and naive,
concern about social taboos for women ("Am I doing it
right?") can all easily combine to create a great deal
of mental and physical stress. Stress may manifest itself
in: anxiety attacks, irritability, insomnia, lack of self-confidence,
lack of appetite, tiredness, inability to concentrate.
into perspective... If
you know you suffer from stress, really try to take things
easy and not let events get out of proportion. If you
can do anything to make life easier, spring into action,
if not... let it go!
to prevent a build up of stress by incorporating a period
of relaxation into your day. Simply sitting quietly for
10 minutes and stilling the mind with a repeated word
or number can be beneficial.
Breathe easy... Many people who
suffer from stress are prone to hyperventilation, that
is they breathe far more than is necessary, causing a
cycle of anxiety. You may like to try relaxing with an
anti-anxiety breathing pattern. It can actually be used
at any time or place where you feel anxious, be it the
bus station or whilst waiting in a hotel lobby, and is
extremely effective for calming nerves. The key to this
method is a slow but fairly short inhalation phase, followed
by a slow, but significantly longer exhalation phase.
A two to three second inhalation, followed by a continuous
seven second exhalation is an ideal to aim for, but may
take several weeks of practice.
Eat the best way possible... Depending where
you are travelling pay attention to your eating habits,
but don't become obsessive about them. If you can have
peelable fruit and freshly cooked chicken fine, but if
your host family exists on tough mutton and rice gruel
it's unlikely to harm you for a short time. Continuous
worry about food, health and hygiene can cause a great
deal of stress to travellers, and most of the time you
don't have any control over it - you have to eat. Do as
much as possible to prevent disease - boil your water,
avoid flyblown food stalls, be scrupulous about your own
hygiene...and then relax!
Learn a few reflexology points... Reflexology uses
massage on particular points of the feet which correspond
with specific body areas. As well as feet, these points
are believed to also exist on the hands and tongue. For
stress, massaging the center of the palm with the thumb
of the opposite hand is believed to be beneficial. Massage
slowly and breathe deeply.
Stimulate your mind... Becoming
involved in something - reading, writing, watching a play
or film, painting, playing cards, anything that focuses
your mind can all help you unwind. Anything creative -
from sketching to photography - can be particularly beneficial.
Exercise your body... Exercise acts on
the pleasure centers of the brain, causing you to feel
positive and boosting self-esteem. It also disperses any
build up of lactic acid which fatigues the muscles, causing
a feeling of dullness and lethargy. Non-competitive exercise
is recommended if you are stressed - yoga jogging, swimming,
skipping, dancing are all worthwhile. For optimum health
it is suggested that you exercise for at least 10 minutes
daily or for 20 minute periods four times each week.
Take charge of yourself... Take control. If there are any factors which are causing stress, but which can be altered- a particularly depressing hotel room, belittling companions, lack of privacy - take definite steps to make changes.
(Source: Lee Roland, Journeywoman Magazine File, Issue
Seven, The New Beacon Book of Quotations by Women, The Women's
Travel Information Pack, Women's Travel Advisory Bureau,
Women's Words on Stress...
The trips when
I was the most worried were also the trips when I got
the most sick. I'm still not sure which condition came
first -- the stress or the illness. Evelyn Hannon, Editor, Journeywoman
Worry is like a
rocking chair -- it keeps you moving but doesn't get you
anywhere. Corrie ten Boom, Prison Letters (1975)
We have to fight
them daily, like fleas, those many small worries about
the morrow, for they sap all our energies. Etty Hillesum (1942), An Interrupted Life (1983)
Stress is an ignorant
state. It believes that everything is an emergency. Natalie Goldberg, Wild Mind (1990)
Calming thoughts for the road...
Mama's chicken soup...
I always carry a container of instant chicken soup when I travel. When I start to feel out-of-sorts, I boil up some water, mix and enjoy. Voila, it's like having my Jewish mother right there, holding my hand, chatting and comforting me. Calm returns.
From Journeywoman Files
Get Thee to a Nunnery...
Many monasteries, temples and convents of all the world's
religions accept visitors and pilgrims. They offer a night's
lodging for little or nothing. Balance, contrast, variety.
I recommend it. Richard Sterling, Travellers' Tales,
The Fearless Diner, 1998
Women's calming words... Like water which can clearly mirror the sky and the
trees only so long as its surface is undisturbed, the
mind can only reflect the true image of Self when it is
tranquil and wholly relaxed. Indra Devi, Life Through Yoga, 1963