It’s been nearly a week since I returned home from Guatemala, and I’m still in recovery.
The other day, I mentioned that I might have a case of post mission trip depression. A good friend said that was a real thing. I’m not sure if I’m all together depressed, but I’m definitely dealing with some feelings I don’t normally have. My stomach has been a little unsettled that past few days which could be a result of a couple of meals I tried toward the end of my visit – namely the street side tacos from San Raymundo or the meal I enjoyed at the house dedication. Beyond that, I’ve missed the team we spent the week with in Guatemala. I’ve also been pondering the next moves in building more homes for widows. And I’m feeling the realities of being thrust back into a high pressure, fast paced world after being in a low pressure, slower paced Guatemala. I’m confident things will improve in the coming days, but these feelings got me thinking that I’m probably not alone.
Today, I want to give you some advice on how to overcome a case of post mission trip depression. (And by the way, I’m writing this for myself too.)
8 Ways to Overcome Post Mission Trip Depression
- Find a way to serve in your local community. Serving around the world in places like Guatemala is important, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be serving right in our own communities. When we serve others, it uplifts the people we are serving and us.
- Share your story with others. Don’t let your mission trip story fade into the past. By sharing your story, you may inspire others to serve others, and you get the benefit of reliving your experience.
- Get some sleep. Typically, a missions trip throws your internal clock for a loop. It’s important to get appropriate sleep to help you return to the “normalcy” of your typical routine.
- Schedule time to get together with your team. If you served with a group of people, you should consider setting time aside to get together with the team. Maybe it starts with dinner out with some of the friends you just met. It would also be a good idea to schedule a “reunion gathering” for your team to share pictures, stories, and general feedback on the return to home.
- Don’t forget to eat. Food is often the key ingredient to keeping us emotionally stable. Make sure you take time to eat.
- Get some exercise. Even a walk in the park can do wonders for our emotional health. Make sure you get out and exercise when you come home from a mission trip.
- Read a good book about missions trips or about serving other people. This fall, I’ll be releasing my next book, Rooftop Reflections – Missional Thoughts of an Ordinary Guy from an Extraordinary Place. I’ll share more about this in the coming weeks. This kind of book can keep your brain on the right wavelength as you try to remember your experience and as you try to find ways to apply it in your everyday world.
- Start planning your next mission trip. Why wait until next year to sign up for a trip? Start fundraising now. Start collecting donations to give to the widows, the orphans, and the poor you might be serving in the future. Take an active role in getting ready for another trip to serve others.
I’m already feeling a little bit better just thinking about taking these actions.
How have you handled your thoughts and feelings upon returning home from a missions trip or life-changing experience? Share your thoughts in the comments.
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2