The season is turning, for sure. There has been a crispness in the air for the last few days. Some brown leaves fell in front of me this week. The swallows are preparing for their long journey ahead, stretching their muscles, swooping up and down and practising their chirping communications. They will be gone in a few days.
For many people the summer of 2020 has been difficult to bear because travel is more or less forbidden. If you are feeling sad about this, the reason is that leisure travel is a pleasurable activity that releases dopamine in our brains – a feel-good hormone.
However, there are ways of triggering a little wave of dopamine related to travel, and you don’t have to go far to do it.
- Look up at the sky. Look so high that your peripheral vision can no longer see your surroundings. Now focus on the blue bits and notice any clouds, the same way you do when you are lying on a sun lounger. For a moment, you can pretend that you are in a hot country, lying on a sun lounger, looking up at the sky. Sounds simple, but it works, try it!
- Browse through your photos of previous holidays. Examine them in detail, really noticing the background, the ground, the wall behind, the flora and fauna. This will retrieve long buried memories of that moment in time. Again, imagine for a moment that you are there.
- Many meditation apps have soundtracks of waves on a shingle beach. Put on headphones, close your eyes and BE there!
- If the planning of travel is what excites you most, plan a short trip (day trip or longer) in your own country (staying within restrictions and guidelines). Really plan it, like you would map out a foreign trip. Mark it on the calendar, look forward to it, root out whatever holiday clothes you can manage with. Include adventure and activities in your trip that you don’t normally do in your day to day life, whether that’s horse-riding, having a long lazy lunch with a beer or glass of wine, reading a holiday novel or eating out in a restaurant you normally wouldn’t treat yourself to.
- Digital travelling is now more accessible than ever, with TV shows, Google maps and online 3D views of villages, beaches and destinations that you may never be able to travel to, even in a Covid-free world.
- Plan your next actual trip when the world has opened up again. Create folders, plan out activities, research the best times of the year to go to your preferred spot.
These work best if you keep your mindset open to expecting a reward. Dopamine is usually released in anticipation of a pleasurable activity. It’s like when we see cake and have given ourselves permission to eat it. Before you have put a morsel in your mouth, you are happy! Watch yourself, it’s true. (Of course eating it is a whole other experience!)
Until next week, safe and happy ‘travels’!
All the best,