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Old 26 Jan 2010
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Stress First Aid

Most travellers are very self reliant and therefore the stress of modern society has far less effect. Sometimes however we can get into a hole where there seems to be no escape and just want to give up. What follows are 3 tips that I have found very helpful in the past so I hope they may be of use to others.

Stress Busting First Aid - My three top techniques

Stop the Pain
When you just cannot get an issue or problem out of your head it is impossible to sleep or carry out any other functions properly. Use this technique to hammer it down or just to allow your mind to put it in perspective.

Focus on the issue or problem, the more you feel your stress levels rise the better as you are really where the problem is. Keeping it in your mind then look to your extreme left with your eyes only. Keeping your head still, sweep your gaze to the extreme right taking one to two seconds to traverse. There is no need to focus your eyes on any individual item as it crosses your field of view until you reach the extreme left or right of your vision. Do this repeatedly for 30 seconds or until the pain stops and the issue or problem recedes to manageable levels. Repeat as required. I don't know why this works it just does and can be used to stop the problem dead. You are then able to go on to technique 2 to get some sleep or rest.

Get some sleep.
With worries in your head it is impossible to sleep or rest. This just compounds the problem but can be helped by a little concentrated mind exercise.

Relax your body and get as comfortable as possible. Close your eyes and prepare for sleep. Now focus all your attention on your breathing. Gently and slowly, breathing as normally as possible listen to the sounds of your breathing. Feel the the coolness of the air as it flows into your nostrils, the quiet rush as it streams through your sinuses and down into your chest. Feel your chest rise and your diaphragm pull down. Then feel your chest relax and push the warmed stream of breath out through the same channels, this creating a warmed sensation over your top lip. Repeat each breath and gently explore and feel every sensation. All the time your mind will be trying to divert to other issues (the ones that keep you awake), when this happens just refocus and restart the attention on your breathing again, gently and firmly, don't let go until you fall asleep.

Get through the day
When you have so many things to contend with through the day it is impossible to clearly prioritise when you are stressed. This just makes things worse and worse until you just cease to function at all constructively. This technique will get things back on track if used slowly and methodically.

To set your day in order just prioritise the very first thing you must do and LEAVE the rest. Focus ONLY on that next simple task. On waking it could just be to turn off the alarm clock, yes it is that simple. When that task is complete go to the next simple one, get out of bed and wash. When that task is complete the next one will clearly suggest itself, get dressed. The next go down stairs and eat breakfast. Steadfastly keep to the very next task and NO further until that task is completed. You will come to the point where you have to decide what task to do next, treat that as a task and deal with it ONLY when you have got to it and NOT BEFORE. Astonishingly the day will take it's course and your stress levels will reduce markedly. As this happens the task groups can be expanded and joined until you are back in control again. Just don't rush taking on more things ahead until you are really comfortable.

These techniques do not address the underlying causes of your stress but will allow you the space and strength to attempt to deal with them. Sometimes the only way to deal with a problem is to think of the very worst that can happen and then ACCEPT it. Then the only way is UP
"The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt." -Bertrand Russell
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Old 28 Jan 2010
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I know there's often method in this stuff so will give the 'Get through the day' idea a go as I really get distracted sometimes.
I've a feeling I'm not in Kansas anymore.
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Old 23 Feb 2010
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I wish I had the mental concentration required for this.

I just seem to turn to a bottle of wine and some Led Zeppelin in my tent or a long walk/run.

Good post though.. Being on the road can be VERY stressful and there are times why you question your own sanity for putting yourself through it.
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Old 27 Jul 2010
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My contribution to the thread is to promote hypnosis. A while ago I got Paul McKenna's Positivity programme and I found that, if used regularly it'll certainly make you see light in the dark hours. However, the problem with it makes you feel so good in yourself that you feel you don't need it, neglect to use it and when you least expect it you'll find yourself in another pit.
I find much like vehicle maintenance, keeping yourself mentally maintained keeps you prepared for the worst situations, opposed to dealing with the worst situations unprepared.

Each have their own technique of dealing with mental health, however, I wouldn't overlook hypnosis for keeping your self esteem in check.

I certainly am taking Paul McKenna with me through Africa.
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Old 29 Jul 2010
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Move away from Leeds
Anything can happen in the next half hour
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Old 25 Sep 2010
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Originally Posted by oothef View Post
Move away from Leeds

I would if I could find a decent place in York
"The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt." -Bertrand Russell
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Old 23 Apr 2012
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Ahh...I thought there were only real big heroes here who don't have any fear at all. Perhaps the most of you are.
One of the reasons I never travelled alone on a bike before is because I easily stress out. I'm not proud of it and it's my biggest problem on the road.
I'm going on my second 'big' (7000 km is big for me) trip and the first thing I've done is try to find solutions for the things that gave me stress last year. For instance this year I take a jerrycan of fuel with me, probably won't need it but it's just reassuring.
Secondly I've tried meditation and found that even one of only 3 minutes can ease your mind a bit. So I'm going to try that out when I get in a position where I get a little stress. Hope it helps a bit.
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Old 24 Jun 2012
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Yeah, not many people write about the stress in their glossy ride reports hey

Everyone here is still human, some people have a higher tolerance than others...

Here are my tips for dealing with stress and anxiety.

Youtube hypnotherapy - don't laugh, seriously, read below.

I have had a couple of anxiety attacks on my trip which really shook me. I have a health problem called hashimotos disease - hypothyroid - tests later at the doctor showed my blood levels for thyroid hormone were too high which was causing the anxiety. That and isolation was getting to me. Anyway, I found this awesome self-hypnosis thing on youtube.
That calmed me the f-ck down and I was really skeptical but having and anxiety attack in the complete darkness on a mountain, in the middle of the night on a horse ranch, being the only person on the ranch and with only an internet connection (plus everyone back home at work on the other side of the world) I gave it a try. Worked a treat, so I have it downloaded now and saved on my laptop. Only used it twice but the fact that it worked so well has given me a bit of confidence that if I get another anxiety attack in the future I can use it again. Anxiety is like that too, if you know you can deal with it, you tend not to get it, as it is a self-fulfilling thing.

Eat a really healthy meal
Eating well on the road can be hard, when was the last time you had a really healthy meal. Most places in the world you can go to a market and get vegetables - boil up a whole heap - the rule of thumb is the more different colours the better. Eat them up, don't worry about the taste, they are good for you dammit!

The other thing is Salmon, if you can get your hands on it, the omega3s will do you a world of good. Fry it up and woof it down!

Finally vitamin B, get plenty of it, consider carrying a multivitamin like Berocca for times like this.

If your body is healthy your mind will work better.

Do a good hard, CARDIO Exercise session

Whatever you do, easiest on the road will be to go for a run, stretch both before and after as the loosening of muscles will also help to get rid of tension and help you relax. You have to get your heart rate up for at least 25 minutes. This releases all sorts of endorphins and I like to say it Smooths out the emotions. So when you get stressed you won't experience it in such erratic thoughts.

The other benefit of the cardio is that it will help you sleep at night, a good nights rest is important in dealing with stress and reducing anxiety which brings me to the next point.

I second the get some sleep and would also add to take a rest day if you can, surround yourself with home comforts. I carry my laptop and watch cheesy american comedy sitcoms to zone out.

I found Chamomile tea worked well for me too, it was a hot drink without any stimulants and would signal to my brain that it is time to go to sleep. The worst thing that can happen, it happened to me the day before an 800k ride is that you can't sleep, you get to 1am and you are thinking, if I go to sleep now I am only going to get 5 hours sleep and how am I going to ride 800ks on 500k's sleep. That thought keeps you awake and the more you think the less you can get to sleep. I ended up with 3 hours sleep that night and had to nap every 3 hours on the trip, luckily I had a really good week before that night in terms of sleep and my body coped okay. HOWEVER, from now on I discussed with my girlfriend that I will have back up plans for these things, i.e. communicate with a person that I might not make it the next day, have a back up plan in place already for a halfway point in case I need to sleep in and can't leave early. That way I will be more likely to get to sleep knowing that I don't absolutely have to do the 800ks the next day, as such it then becomes easier to sleep. Accepting alternative outcomes and having alternative plans can help you get over the stress I guess.

Happy riding!

Oh and edit because I forgot to mention Avoid alcohol and caffeine until the problem causing the stress/anxiety goes away. Stimulants will only make it worse.

Last edited by JetJackson; 24 Jun 2012 at 20:59.
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