Feeling connected with others is a basic human need. Going on tour can affect your ability to stay connected with friends and family and this can have negative effects on your mental health. Have you planned adequately for this change in lifestyle? The Arts Wellbeing Collective provide a few pieces of advice for your pre-tour checklist.
Before you go, have a chat with your loved ones to come up with solutions for staying connected
What would be a reasonable expectation for how often you will be able to be in contact? Are there any periods that contact will be not possible? Would you prefer to work out a set communication routine, or would you prefer to be spontaneous?
Make the best of technology
Call, text, Skype, message, email – whatever works to stay in touch. Consider a closed social media group if you don’t want to ‘spam’ your friends with tour updates!
Figure out what would make you feel more connected while you’re away.
Perhaps mates could send postcards to be waiting for you at the next town, or you could find a way to bring your partner for a visit.
Check for any important events
For example, birthdays or anniversaries that might take place while you’re away. Chat about how you might celebrate from afar.
Work out a plan for managing potential crises at home
Who can help coordinate things and keep you up to date while you’re away? There are times when life throws a curve ball, like an accident or an illness, and you can’t be there – you’ll feel better knowing a plan is in place if the unexpected happens.
Notice if you’re feeling lonely
It sounds simple, but keeping an eye on your feelings can help you to take action. The antidote to loneliness is connection and you can seek it in many ways. Connect with a human or an animal in the community where you’re staying, seek support from your tour mates or direct your attention back home.
IF YOU ARE TOURING WITH A MENTAL HEALTH CONDITION:
Talk with your GP, specialist or psychiatrist before you leave and get their advice on how to manage your medication while you’re away. The effectiveness of certain medicines follows the body clock, so interruption or reversal of the sleep/wake pattern can interfere with treatment.
Seeing your psychologist
Chat with them about whether you can continue having sessions while you’re away, perhaps via video-conferencing or phone.
Schedule a pre-tour session to consider stressors and triggers to feeling unwell, and develop specific management strategies to implement while on the road.
Sharing your story
Consider disclosing to at least one trusted person on tour so you have someone to seek support from if needed.
If you work for an organisation you feel supported by and feel comfortable sharing your mental health journey, talk to them about what you need. It can be worthwhile to share with company management, too, confirming that you are prepared for touring, and you have a management plan in place.
You might need to be quite firm about your needs and boundaries. That’s OK – your health is the most important thing.