I’m on a video call with a few friends from university, and they all agree in the midst of us catching up virtually, that I look pale and lack energy. They go so far as to candidly suggest I take 2000mg of Vitamin C daily.
Hmmm… what? Now, I know for certain that I’m not lacking any form of C supplement for my body, as I already get plenty from citrus fruits. “I am travel deficient, girls!” I shout with a laugh during our conversation. If anything, my languishing is caused by vitamin T(ravel) deficiency.
I’ve always had a bohemian heart. From what I wear to the kinds of poetry I write. And I used to travel quite a bit for work as a corporate writer (usually being pampered by amazing perks like being offered premier lounges for relaxation). So, having had to leave the corporate world behind, the bohemian traveller in me bloomed. Travelling on a budget awarded me the chance to see the world in a whole new way.
When the pandemic hit, with me suffering from extreme anxiety, travelling anywhere was an absolute no-no. Even if it was to a local destination (when we were allowed to). So, the husband and I cancelled all touristic attempts for the year, and took solace within our safe and humble abode.
But it’s been a year and a half since the outbreak. And I now find myself hoping for things to pick up travel-wise. I’m sure we all are.
In the case of being vitamin T(ravel) deficient, it hit me hard in three big waves, and were all aligned with Malaysia’s various Movement Control Orders (MCOs). I’m sure everyone can relate to this. Here’s what the three phases are and how to replenish some of that vitamin T(ravel):
Phase 1: Going stir crazy
The first time the MCO was implemented from March to June 2020 caught me off guard. I wasn’t prepared for it as it was still a new concept and felt quite strange all at the same time. Things aren’t so bad (yet), but I felt imprisoned, distressed, and irritable – simply for being stuck in one place and isolated in a confined space for an extended period of time.
What to do: Immerse yourself in a nature documentary and open your windows for as long as you can to let in some fresh air. Surprisingly, another thing that helped us through was our five cats – they kept us entertained. Should you not have a liking for family of the feline kind, perhaps start by getting a fish. Research has shown that pet-owning has many lockdown blues-alleviating benefits.
It also allows you some form of connection with nature. For instance, watching fish flitting about in their decked out aquarium can be just as cathartic as lying on the beach whilst listening to the gentle crashing of waves.
Phase 2: Your brain and body are just not feeling it
Otherwise known simply as languishing. By late 2020, the MCOs were taking a toll on me mentally and draining me physically. I suffered from frequent headaches; probably from not being outdoors enough or due to not having a change of scenery for so long. Staring at the four walls of our apartment with little escape from the mundane was getting my emotions warped too. Prior to this, all I had to do to get some pep in my step was book a plane ticket or take a road trip.
What to do: Get your body moving. Walk or circuit train to music that ‘transports’ you to countries you’ve been to or have yet to visit. Check out these playlists and get pumping. You can also try getting on a treadmill (if you have one) and going on a virtual walk or hike on the telly so you feel like you’re elsewhere. With plenty of different location settings, one day you can be ‘walking amongst the prairies near Hudson Valley’ then taking an ‘evening stroll by River Seine’ the next.
Phase 3: Hopelessness
Not getting enough vitamin T(ravel) doesn’t only mean you’re not getting enough holiday time on a beach somewhere. These days, going on a ‘trip’ to the store or across town to see your parents can be equated with travelling. The extended restrictions on movement can get you feeling so helpless and hopeless that you find yourself shutting down all travelling plans.
I’d personally hit this point recently, during the start of MCO 3.0, when I almost called off all travel plans until 2024. This is when the WHO predicts that COVID-19 will be completely eradicated and travel will be back in full swing.
What to do: Don’t do it! Don’t give up hope until you finally visit your best friend in Greece. Or that dream destination you finally saved up for. Instead, find it in yourself to create a mood board of the places you want to be. Heck! Turn it into a mural in your bedroom for all good travel intents and purposes.
Use postcards, pictures, little paraphernalia, anything to remind you of the place you long to visit. Then, sit back and visualise. Greece will always be there waiting, so you’re going to end up holidaying there eventually! Updating that mood board or mural is easy too.
So ladies, the biggest takeaway from all this is to stay connected with the outside world. And to do this through whatever means and resources are available to us. I must say that by getting little doses of vitamin T(ravel) back into my system, I’m looking forward to Greece once things get back to ‘normal’. In addition, I’m more bushy tailed when my friends and I get together for a video call these days.
However, if you do find that your mental health has been severely affected beyond being anxious or irritable, do consider seeking professional advice. Don’t let it spiral out of control. Check out these affordable and free resources or follow these tips for looking after your mental health by a clinical psychologist.