Cerro Campanario, in the Argentine Lake District

In Patagonia

Cerro Campanario, in the Argentine Lake District
Cerro Campanario, Argentine Lake District

They say travel broadens the mind, and for those of us who are lucky to do it once in a while, it certainly does. I’ve been in South America for the past month taking a very overdue holiday, and the effect on my mental state has been quite remarkable. I feel happier, healthier, more energised and full of possibility. And more than that, I think it’s given me a renewed sense of perspective on my habits and troubles here in London which is making it much easier to stay calm and focused as I get back on top of everything.

I think part of it is the process of shaking up my normal routine. I have my things which I do regularly in London to feel good, but I also have lots of bad habits, things I “should” do, things I don’t do enough of. Breaking my routines as I moved from one part of a foreign country to the next has been very good for me, like a breath of fresh air. Change your habits, change your head.

I e-mailed the rest of the Mindapples team from the far reaches of Patagonia with five things I do while I’m travelling to look after my mind which I don’t do normally:

  1. Saying yes to everything – well that is, everything that feels right. There’s something about being in strange lands that means you only get the most out of them if you’re prepared to do as the locals do, roll with the possibilities, and stay positive about uncertainty.
  2. Taking exercise – I climbed a small mountain in Bariloche, Argentina and I felt great afterwards, and in Buenos Aires I also did my first ever yoga class (in Spanish), and I may be hooked.
  3. Writing. Not much, but scribbling some bad poetry about geese and trees when I feel the mood strike me is a great way of getting my thoughts clearer.
  4. Early nights, early mornings – totally out of character, but there’s something about the air there that made me want to get up at 8am and go hiking. Weird.
  5. Being outdoors – Patagonia is beautiful and I did a lot of trekking and walking, in snow and in jungles, everywhere. Nature is amazing. The scale and pace of the non-human world is wonderful for creating a sense of perspective about the troubles and trials of city life.

Of course I also did my fair share of caprinhas till 5am, eating barbeque at 2am, staying up late partying, stressing about things, generally still being me. But all in all, this is the best my mind has felt for years. Now I’m back in London I hope to bring a rush of cool South American air to my life and work, and sweep things up into new, healthier energies. Either that or I’ll just eat more beef. Who knows…

All this has got me thinking though: maybe you don’t have to travel to change your habits and feel that fresh air. What if you could change your perspective by changing your Mindapples? The holiday season is coming up, so why not take a break, and swap your Mindapples with a friend…? A change is as good as a rest, as my granny used to say, so why not change your mental routine for a while, and let us know here how your mind feels afterwards. Happy travelling!