The most effective approach for getting yourself ready for an alternative break would be to look at the WHOLE picture. It seems that everyday I’m hearing of new ways the emotional, physical, spiritual and mental are interwoven… and how one always effects the other somehow.
Physical preparation is key. It’s very easy to get sick when traveling, for several reasons, but there are many things you can do to prevent this and stay healthy so that you can serve to your fullest potential! We have to be aware of illnesses that can come from a weary body, heat exhaustion, bad water, mosquitos, foreign food, etc. One of the things you can do before you leave is have a healthier diet: this includes lots of clean water, fruits and veggies, and cutting out most sugar and carbs. I’d also start taking pro-biotics and other things to strengthen your immune system so it will be harder to get sick. Another great idea is to do some type of exercise or activity every day to strengthen the core and to prepare you for lots of walking, serving and fun activities!!! Don’t forget to continue these healthy habits once you hit the road, and make sure you pack lots of Emergen-C! While you’re traveling go ahead and use bottled or filtered water for everything, even teeth brushing! Also, make sure all your foods have been cooked and don’t over eat it if you are not sure how you’re body is going to react to something 🙂 I find my hand sanitizer can be very “handy” when traveling as well 🙂
Mentally, I think it might be smart to start reading up on where you are going and what you’ll be doing. Make it fun and do some of your own research on the language, the culture, and the food! I like to learn a few words in their language if you are going somewhere that English is not the first language. It really makes them feel respected and cared for! It’s also good to know some of the challenges of the place you are going, so you are not completely shocked when you arrive. As long as you go with an open mind, open heart and open hands you’ll be fine!
Emotions can be a bit tricky out there, especially for us gals 🙂 No matter how hard I prepped myself sometimes, I still found it hard to take in some of the horrible living conditions i’ve seen. Just remember that your emotions are very real, just like the problems they might be facing… but spend more time thinking about ways to serve and love them where they are. It can be a bit overwhelming when you begin to see all of the big issues in this great big world, but keep in mind it’s one person at a time. There may be some cases where you become angry. I remember when I started working with trafficked women I began to become angry towards the men that cause these awful crimes and steal their innocent lives away. But the more we researched the roots of this thing, we saw that these men were once boys who were also abused, neglected, and enslaved. You see, the victimizers were victims themselves at one point in time. Truth is, Love wins this battle… not more hate.
Now I’m not sure if you are a spiritual person at all, but it might be the most important part of this whole preparation. More studies are showing that mediation and silence are key ingredients to fulfillment, peace, wisdom, etc. I love to meditate on beautiful music with meaningful words or verses in the bible or though provoking quotes. If you pray, it would be a great way to connect you to where you are going and the people you will be serving by praying for them ahead of time. You’d be amazed at the difference! Not only will this help get your body, mind and soul prepared for this journey… but will give you a way to relax on the road if you find yourself in stressful or intense situations.
It’s pretty cool how are of these things are connected somehow. Most of the time if you began to strengthen one of these areas, the others seem to quickly follow. I think you’ll find that as you become more balanced, you will feel more WHOLE. The more whole of a person you feel, the more energy, love, and joy you will have for yourself and others around you! Enjoy your amazing trip!