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12 Ways Travel Makes You A Better Person

12 Ways Travel Makes You A Better Person

Travel makes you a better person and has numerious benefits that cannot be found by staying at home. From expanding your horizons to exposing you to different cultures, the effects of your travels last for a lifetime. Make a change for the better by ‘investing’ in travel for yourself.

How? Well here’s how:

1. Travel teaches you the value of making friends

When you’re away from home and all the creature comforts it brings, there comes a point where you understand the real value of community. It’s all well and good to stick to your closed-in circles at home, but when you are travelling it becomes swiftly apparent that building a global network of friends is the key to a happier and easier life.

2. Travel is your crash course to geography and orientation

Have you always struggled with which way is up, down, left, right, east or west? Can’t figure out which direction the sun will set? Or which was exactly you came from? Well, all of that will change when you start travelling.

There really is no better way to be thrown in the deep end then to get half way down a street, stop, spin around 3 times, and realize you have no idea where you are going. When you’re on your own with no context for where you are, you will learn how to find your way.

3. Travel teaches you patience

Routine is built for the soul purpose of creating efficiencies in your life. When you travel, you are out of routine. You are so far from it that you teach yourself how to operate dynamically, on-the-fly, and without preparation. When you travel, not only does shit happen, but generally, things more often than not will not work out the way you hoped or planned.

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Waiting in queues, getting things wrong because you don’t understand the language, chasing dreams that looked so much closer in the photos. These things teach you to stick it out, take life a little less seriously, and stop and smell the roses.

4. Travel teaches you how to be frugal

Have you ever looked at your bank statement and realized that you spend a lot of money? That night out every Friday with your friends, the monthly phone bill, the gym membership, the fuel for your car, the taxi fares, the health insurance, the presents, the entertainment, the dinners out with friends — it all adds up. It’s really easy to put it all on a credit card or direct debit it from your account. This way, you never actually see or count the notes in your wallet flying out.

When you travel, you must become the ultimate budgeter. You have set yourself a budget; you have a daily allowance for food, accommodation, and fun, and you must stick to it. The last thing you want to do is run out of money on the other side of the world. And if your life is travel, an empty bank account means that dreaded call home for a ticket back to the parents’ house.

You appreciate every cent, you bargain with everyone, you get value for money, and you earn it when you make it.

5. Travel teaches you to ask for help

When you’re on the other side of the world, mom and dad can’t help you much. Neither can your best friend or sibling (unless they are with you). But, travel teaches you that you are never truly alone. It’s vey rare in this world that a stranger wont help you if you need it. Especially when it comes to directions or translation. No matter how great our technology gets, there will be times that those travel apps just aren’t helping.

People are wired to help each other. That’s what community is all about.

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6. Travel teaches you that you are a tiny, tiny fish in a massive ocean.

Travel changes your perspective on every factor of your life. Remember how your parents used to tell you how important you are, how you could be anything? Well you are important, and you can be anything.

But there are also seven billion other people out there who are just as important with just as much of a right to be who they want to be as well. Travel teaches you that you that the world owes you nothing. This life is yours, make of it what you will. Because at the end of the day, the only person who cares as much about your life as you is you.

7. Travel broadens your horizons

Don’t you think the most interesting people in the world are the ones who can relate to any topic and offer an interesting anecdote about that topic from their own experiences? When you travel, you learn and begin to gain an understanding of so many more global topics than you would if you simply read them in a newspaper or Facebook feed.

You also meet many more people. Your network of friends and acquaintances swells in numbers, and so the amount of people you can bounce ideas off of, and have meaningful conversations with increases too. The more you travel, the more sides to the story you hear.

8. Travel teaches you acceptance and tolerance

Before you start travelling, its easy to get into a comfortable little corner where the world revolves around what you believe, and what you believe is shaped by what you hear on your local news channel or what your parents taught you.

When you travel, you see people for who they really are. You experience different cultural norms and nuances, and you gain an appreciation for what other cultures value most. This is generally different to what you value most, and that’s ok.

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You’re both right.

9. Travel matures your palate

Oh, the amount of food I have learned to love because there really wasn’t much else being offered in that small town in that country no one has been. Your palate is something that doesn’t generally mature just because you get older. You need to keep exposing it to new things for it to start liking new things.

A big part of this is actually all in your head. Just because your western culture has told you it’s not cool to eat fried crickets, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily not cool to eat fried crickets. You see, a lot of people around the world think that about our beef eating habits too.

Get out there, try it all. Some of it is horrifically bad, but most of it is good. Why? Well because most people don’t cook things they don’t like, right?

10. Travel teaches you that there is no place like home

It is all well and good to tread the path less trodden, to fly by the seat of your pants, and go with the wind, and to take thousands of photos of it all.  But to be honest, one of the biggest things I keep having re-affirmed to myself as I continue to experience and appreciate new cultures is home is actually the best place on earth.

Where you are from may not be the most populous or have the most entertainment events or cultural festivals, it still has the most important things: friends and family. The luckiest bit is, they’ll always be there when you need them.

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11. Travel teaches you that we are all the same

Its so easy to feel like that kid in Kenya is some alien from a different planet with no relatable feelings or dreams, or that girl in Argentina or Finland. Or maybe, when you think of Nairobi, all you can picture is lions and Africans in shacks, or kangaroos jumping down the streets of Perth, Australia. TV creates these distorted realities in our heads because it exploits our imaginations to make more money.

The reality is, all major cities are really quite similar. Most have skyscrapers and traffic lights, nightclubs and restaurants, city parks, and Apple stores. That boy in Kenya is just as smart as you and he’s working just as hard as you to get into law school. He can be lazy and temperamental like you, and has so many other dreams of travelling and working abroad.

Just because he comes from a different or less publicized/developed nation, doesn’t mean he is any less capable or driven than you.

12. Travel creates unforgettable memories

The bottom line is, when you travel, whether you love it or not, you are creating a path that is different and memorable. You push yourself to new limits and out of your comfort zone, and most of all, you break that routine your brain so intelligently teaches itself to blur out in your memory. Travelling is full of so many postcard moments because they are all unique; they are yours and no one else’s.

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Published on November 14, 2018

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

Symptoms of Fatigue

Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

  • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
  • mental blocks
  • lack of motivation
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • muscle weakness
  • slowed reflexes and responses
  • impaired decision-making and judgement
  • moodiness, such as irritability
  • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
  • reduced immune system function
  • blurry vision
  • short-term memory problems
  • poor concentration
  • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

Causes of Fatigue

The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

  • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
  • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
  • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
  • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

Medical Causes of Fatigue

If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

Anemia

Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

Diabetes

Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

Thyroid disease

An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Too much sleep 
  • Alcohol and drugs 
  • Sleep disturbances 
  • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
  • Poor diet 

Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

  • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
  • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
  • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
  • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

Psychological Causes of Fatigue

Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

  • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
  • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
  • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

1. Tell The Truth

Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

  • How you feel
  • What time of day it is
  • What may have contributed to your fatigue
  • How your mind and body reacts

This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

2. Reduce Your Commitments

When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

4. Express More Gratitude

Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

5. Focus On Yourself

Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

7. Take a Power Nap

When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

8. Take More Exercise

The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

9. Get More Quality Sleep

To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

10. Improve Your Diet

Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

11. Manage Your Stress Levels

Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

12. Get Hydrated

Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

The Bottom Line

These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
[2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
[3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
[4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
[5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
[6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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