Amy Roberts: Traveling is the best therapy
By nature, I tend to be wound up tighter than a two-dollar watch. I often go about my day with an unrealistic, if not unnecessary, sense of urgency. For the most part, it’s not anxiety or stress-related. I’m just in constant “get stuff done” mode.
For a long time, I was convinced there was something inherently wrong with being an intense, deadline-driven person. I’ve been told, “You’re so Type A” enough to know this disguised suggestion to relax is really a thinly veiled insult that falls just short of calling me a neurotic heart attack waiting to happen.
To overcome this perceived personality disorder, I’ve tried things like yoga and meditation. Both of which left me even more anxious — willing the clock to move faster so I could be released from such a useless, time-sucking exercise. Massages, flotation therapy, self-help books, podcasts, retreats — I’ve tried them all in an attempt to ‘OM’ my way into a more peaceful state. Because I had been made to believe those were the only successful methods of chilling out, and being super chill was the ultimate goal. Tranquility and enlightenment, I assumed, could almost exclusively be found wearing Lululemon.
I understand that for many people, all of these approaches to being present are incredibly effective. I have many friends who, if not for their daily yoga class, might very well be in a court-ordered anger management course. I’ve seen it work for others, but I couldn’t make it work for me. Which turned me into a Type A-Plus personality — determined to force the outcome I wanted.
And that’s when I began to realize that the road to inner peace and self-care has a number of dirt path turnoffs. And for me, the best way to be happy and healthy at home is to go away.
Planning a trip somewhere new brings me a sense of joy and wonderment nothing else can replicate. Traveling, especially internationally, is my therapy. It recalibrates my soul, energizes my spirit, and yes, helps me live in the moment. For me, traveling is not a luxury, it’s a mandatory part of my well-being. Just like yoga or a solid night of sleep is for others.
I realize I am very fortunate to be in a place where I can align my disposable income with what is important to me, though that doesn’t mean I don’t make sacrifices and save. I don’t drive a new or fancy car, I don’t treat myself to spa days or shopping sprees, and I made a conscious choice not to have kids, because a well-used passport is far more appealing to me than a well-used diaper bag.
Luckily though, my sister did make the conscious choice to reproduce, and as a result, a whole new ‘must-see’ world has opened up to me. My niece is almost four. When she was born, I decided every year I would take at least one trip with her. It didn’t have to be fancy — we could go camping Moab — but we were going somewhere together. In part, this is because I want her to experience the same joy and wonderment I feel each time I travel. But also, this kid will one day put me in a nursing home, and I want her to remember how much I spoiled her when she’s making that decision.
In a couple months, Addison and I are off to Finland. I’m taking her to Santa Claus Village at the North Pole, complete with reindeer-pulled sleigh rides, toy-making elves, and igloo hotels. Because seeing Santa at the mall is so 2017.
Santa Claus Village is also home to the border of the Arctic Circle in Lapland, considered by many to be the last line of hurry and stress. Legend has it, neither exist north of this boundary. Which only reaffirms my belief: Traveling promotes mental health.
Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.
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