SOLO VACAY, HELLO!
Special Announcement: You may want to book a solo trip soon after finding out its many psychological benefits!
For some, the idea of going on a onewoman trip conjures up memories of Julia Roberts’s role as Liz Gilbert in the film Eat, Pray, Love. In it, she played a newly divorced woman who upped and left her life to find herself all over again. Solo travelling is the most therapeutic mechanism that most people underestimate, says registered counsellor Sino Nocwaka Klaas of Baal-Perazim Global Wellness Services. “We are born and socialised to have company at all times. Being surrounded and occupied, by others and everything, is capable of making us lose a huge chunk of our identity, as we constantly give out a piece of ourselves — be it through daily chores, workplace demands and the community at large,” she explains.
In addition to soaking in gorgeous views, time away is a great way to take stock of your life, says Bonolo Mophosho, a Joburg-based counselling psychologist. “Any alone time is important for reflection. You can ponder things that happened previously whilst travelling because you have ample time to do so. And what better way to reflect and learn from your past than when you’re experiencing different cities and cultures?” Mophosho says.
She also likens self-introspection to a spiritual detox of sorts, during which you should try out exercises such as reflecting on past life experiences, facing your fears, dealing with anger, getting out of a painful world and entering a new space of hope, healing and restoration. “I always refer to selfintrospection as spiritual detoxification of the inner being, whom you cannot touch but only feel,” she adds.
Whether on a sho’t left trip or a long haul flight, Klaas advises that you talk to yourself. Worried that a monologue may make you come across as crazy? Relax! “Accept who you are and connect with your inner self often. Identifying your personality is critical for one to be able to work on the negative side of their personality, and mature in strengthening the positive traits,” Klaas says.
Time spent alone can also increase your emotional intelligence, Mophosho adds. “Solo trips can help you compare your own experiences with those of another city as well as your knowledge of what life is. Experiencing how others live can make you appreciate your circumstances,” she says.
Meeting new people (or being forced out of your comfort zone to do so) can be refreshing, and good for your mental well-being too. For instance, getting away during a rough patch can be the best thing for your mental state, Mophosho says. However, if you suffer from anxiety or depression, she suggests first getting it treated, then taking time off to de-stress and recharge.
Once you’ve introspected and assessed yourself, you will finally get to a place where you feel renewed, Klaas says. Always remember that healing and restoration are only a stone’s throw away, waiting for us to claim them.
“Solo trips enhance our resilience, help us focus on the present and revel in our regained energy. Most times, you’ll walk away with a new sense of not needing people’s approval and looking forward to always developing yourself,” Klaas concludes.■