2018 didn't start out the way that I hoped. I found myself in the ER just three days into the new year and four days after my 25th birthday.
One day, I awoke with a sharp pain in my chest. I'd experienced this before on some level, but this time felt different. I could barely raise my arm, and the feeling wouldn't subside. After calling my mother, we both decided that I should check myself into the ER to ensure that it wasn't anything too serious. All was well, but I couldn't understand what had caused this to happen. Then, shortly after, I started experiencing physical symptoms of anxiety like never before: I constantly had a lump in my throat, tears in my eyes, shortness of breath, ruminating thoughts, bodily aches, and even dissociation. I've always been a very calm and grounded person, so this felt like a shock to my system. Every day began to feel like a boxing match between my own body and mind. I started to worry that this would be my new normal, so I was willing to do anything to get back to myself.
Every day began to feel like a boxing match between my own body and mind.
Looking for Zen in all the places.
I'd just come off a year spent traveling the world solo on my life's savings. I had left my comfortable, corporate job behind for a life of freedom. I was living out of a suitcase, and there was no telling which country I'd wake up in on any given day. It was undoubtedly the best year of my life—but the fear of the unknown began to set in.
So here I was: a new year, a new birthday, and no plans for this new chapter of my life. I started asking myself, "What now?" After my trip to the ER and the inexplicable onset of anxiety, it became clear: I couldn't ignore the need for a shift toward a balanced life.
I began practicing yoga at home with the help of YouTube videos and meditating through the Headspace app. I started writing in my journal daily and prioritizing my health. Before I knew it, my anxiety was fading and the fog was clearing. It became apparent that wellness needed to become a part of my daily routine.
So here I was: a new year, a new birthday, and no plans for this new chapter of my life. I started asking myself, ‘What now?’
Rethinking travel—for wellness.
As the year went on, I established a yoga and meditation practice to keep myself mentally grounded. In general, I make it a priority to find the time and space to care for myself because I now know that this greatly affects my well-being. It's why at the end of my year of self-growth, I decided, for the first time, to take a wellness-focused trip.
Solo travel itself is a form of self-care, but it can often be disorienting. I imagined that a wellness tour would provide a much-needed balance of both adventure and stillness, so that I could leave feeling more rejuvenated than ever. Mostly, I really wanted to see what else I could learn about myself—and what else my body and mind need to feel balanced and nourished—from a trip that is totally dedicated to and designed for my wellness.
I landed on G Adventures, an award-winning travel company that creates authentic adventures around the world through a sustainable and responsible lens. They've taken small groups on fairly affordable bucket-list-type trips for nearly 30 years, and they just introduced wellness tours in Central and South America, Europe, and Asia, crafted specifically around immersive experiences and local rituals that help travelers recharge.
I felt more connected with myself, the world, and the people around me.
Experiencing balance and bliss in Costa Rica.
So I headed to Costa Rica with a G Adventures wellness tour and joined a small group of like-minded travelers who were also seeking more than your standard travel experience. Upon arrival, we set intentions for what we wanted to gain from the experience, and I chose peace.
During the eight-day tour, we found ourselves doing stand-up paddleboard yoga while overlooking Arenal Volcano and chasing waterfalls in the Costa Rican jungle. We did sunrise yoga as the sound of waves crashed all around us, which made me pause and appreciate my surroundings. With activities like zip-lining and surfing, I was able to get a healthy dose of adventure in, too. Not to mention, the food was made from all local ingredients and so delicious, I'm craving it now! By the end of the tour, I felt more connected with myself, the world, and the people around me. This style of travel introduced a new perspective that will shape how I live and move through the world from here on out.
After my Costa Rica wellness tour with G Adventures, I feel ready to take on this new year. I'm equipped with the knowledge to carry these mental and physical practices into my daily life, and I feel more prepared to tackle the unknown and accomplish my goals, thanks to this journey within. I now understand the importance of self-care, and I'm confident that 2019 will be my year of peace.