May is Mental Health Month. It’s a great time to remember how important mental health is and to remind yourself of ways to prioritize yours and your family’s. Traveling for sports, with its packed schedules and itineraries, can be a mentally stressful experience. By proactively making mental health part of your travel, you can take steps towards achieving a more relaxed and meaningful trip.
Remember What Works At Home
Parents often focus on themselves last, but a mentally healthy parent is one that is better equipped to deal with difficult situations and model healthy behaviors for kids. Traveling can take your established family routine and turn it on its head. Think about what aspects of your day help you and your family stay centered at home. If it’s getting fresh air, schedule time to get a walk before the busy day starts. If your day tends to go much better once you’ve gotten some exercise, find a class you’re excited to try or hit the hotel gym. Anything from winding down with your favorite show, taking a relaxing bath, or squeezing in a few chapters of the book club book can help you feel centered and back on track when you’re traveling.
Make Time for Balance
It is tempting to try to fit in as many activities as possible to entertain your family and make the journey about more than just playing and watching sports. But don’t forget that just the act of traveling and being away from home is draining. Resist the urge to overbook your time away. You can always add more activities if the family is up for it, but it’s harder to cancel a promised outing. Scheduling buffer time into your trip, if possible, is another way to spread out the travel. If you can get into town a day early or stay a day later, there’s more time to relax before and after your tournament—and maybe even schedule some extra fun!
Get Some ZZZs
Physical health plays an important part in your mental health. Making sure to get enough sleep and eat a healthy diet is as important when you’re traveling as it is at home—if not more! As tempting as it is to stay up late and treat yourself more than usual, sticking to a sleep schedule and limiting indulgences will help you feel energized to take on your schedule. As much as they may resist it, your kids will also be better equipped to compete and handle a busy day when they’ve gotten a good night’s sleep.
Healthy Habits for Kids
Helping your kids monitor and prioritize to their mental health is one of the best lessons you can teach them. There are a few simple things you can do to help them be at their best.
• Communicate: Start communicating with your kids about their feelings and emotions early so they establish a healthy relationship with discussing them.
• Support: Encourage your kids, especially when they behave well and help around the house. Establish reasonable expectations and communicate them in a positive environment.
• Model healthy behaviors: Teach your children to take a beat in a difficult or stressful situation by remaining calm yourself. Taking deep breaths, counting to ten, or stepping away will help you relax, not overreact, and teach your kids to do the same.
• Know limits: Not every problem has a simple solution and that’s okay. You’ll experience a lot of trial and error. Recognize when a situation is outside your limits and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Taking steps to improve, maintain, and communicate about mental health is a wonderful thing you can do for yourself and your family, especially during stressful situations like traveling. Don’t be afraid to take time to focus on you. You’ll help teach your kids about what’s important.
Traveling with your family for a tournament trip? Head to choicehotels.com to book your next stay.
- Parker, Nicholas. “How to Maintain Mental Health While Traveling.” Painted Brain, 3 Nov. 2022, paintedbrain.org/blog/mental-health/how-to-maintain-mental-health-while-traveling. Accessed 17 Apr. 2023.
- “Helping at Home: Tips for Parents.” Mental Health America, www.mhanational.org/helping-home-tips-parents.