The intriguing psychology of traveling and breaking habits

Notice how some of the most popular blogs and Instagram accounts are people sharing beautiful travel photos.

In fact, when I’ve posted pictures from my travels, I get more Likes than almost anything else.

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Visiting friends and fabulous sites in Italy

 

Travel, without a doubt, has had a greater impact on transforming my relationship with food and my body than nearly anything else.

When I was 16 and 87 pounds from being anorexic, I went to Italy for an exchange trip. I was skin and bones and eating almost nothing. Traveling away from home, living with a new family and getting a whole new perspective on my life and the world shifted everything. I started eating again, and began my slow journey of recovery.

When I was 27, I returned to Italy to be in the wedding of my girlfriend from the high school exchange. No longer anorexic, I was still battling with overexercising, chewing/spitting and binging/purging. After two weeks in Italy, I again expanded my view on what I was doing with my health and my life. I returned and broke my compulsion to overexercise, then started reaching out for help to recover fully.

Zooming Out

Travel is instrumental in helping facilitate change because it gets you out of your normal mode of daily living. You break routines and find yourself present to the moment because you are experiencing new things.

When you’re present, it’s easier to notice how you’re feeling or what you want/need. Maybe you need a nap. Or a creamy gelato. Or a walk before dinner.

Travel gives you the opportunity to zoom out and consider the way you’re living your life. If you’re not happy to return home to your “normal life” after your trip, you can ask yourself why. It’s easier to figure out what you can do to adjust things.

Leaning Into Intuition

One of the most counter-intuitive things I’ve learned from creating a new relationship with food is that I need to learn to listen to my intuition to figure out what would truly satisfy me. My intuition is different than my animal brain that’s stuck in a habit, craving binge foods. My intuition tells me whether I want something sweet, savory or maybe no food at all.

When traveling, I lean into my intuition because I don’t have my usual routines to guide me and put my mind on autopilot.

Using Travel As An Instrument

The combination of zooming out to get perspective and leaning into intuition makes travel a powerful instrument for change.

It’s easy to dream of travel or plan to do it “sometime soon” and never take action. You don’t have to plan a long trip abroad; a weekend getaway can be extremely beneficial. Anything to get you away from your home and normal routines will help. A camping trip to a nearby attraction, a few days visiting a friend, a couple nights in a local resort…all of these can be easy to plan and prep for within a week or less.

When was the last time you broke out of your daily routines? What did you notice?

On a jet plane,

Chelsea

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