Jet-lag is best described as “desynchronosis” in medical terms, and it refers to the disruption of your body’s circadian rhythms…say what?! It basically, it means a disruption to the natural times that our bodies feel sleepy, hungry, awake, and alert. This is the main reason why when you travel (particularly across many time zones in one go) or if you have a shift work role (such as nursing or flying) you may feel inclined to repeatedly strike everyone you see with solid silver tray (or similar), or intermittently alternate between eating Milka chocolate straight from the packet, and engaging in frequent horizontal life pauses (commonly known as naps!
The other extreme is feeling the need to run a marathon at 3am and that your handbag/ suitcase/ room/ whole life is in a horrible state of disarray and must be organised. Immediately! This is physiological jetlag. I’m sure that you are all too familiar with the come down of returning from an amazing trip abroad, with a suitcase full of treasures and trinkets, dirty washing and ticket stubs that can’t be parted with (or is that just me?!). The really tricky part of travel and expatriation/ repatriation is emotional jetlag! It has been just as much an up-and-down experience coming home to Perth as it was leaving for Dubai all that time ago.
There have been many things that I have absolutely relished, such as being able to go for walks (on footpaths!) and breathe in fresh, clean air, having the luxury to order bacon or simply a cocktail at an eatery or bar without being in a hotel (so as not to oppose Muslim customs), being able to wear what I please (without being gawked at!) and the obvious one is seeing my amazing parents, James and my friends on a regular basis. All of these little things that I took for granted are suddenly tangible and I am constantly trying to simultaneously remind myself/ forget how different my life was about 12 weeks ago!
For example, when I first came home, the concept of the cold shocked me. It was still Summer, and by Autumn I was rugged up as though I had a JFK in November, not sunny Perth in March! My wardrobe has seemed to have multiplied without my knowledge, and it has been carefully culled into season/ destination appropriate categories (old habits die hard). And what is with driving!? The CBD in my city has changed so much that I thought surely someone was drunk and driving towards me on a one way street, when, actually, said street was now a two- way, and I was in fact on the wrong side of the road!
The most obvious change is in my health and sleep. It is extremely hard to fly and maintain a strict diet/ exercise regime, let alone a steady weight. Most crew I’ve flown with have a “fat” and “skinny” set of uniforms to combat fluctuations (myself included)! Since I have been home, it took me around 8 weeks to go to sleep at a reasonable hour and wake up at a reasonable hour, and only recently have I not been waking up through the night for no reason at all. Why was I awake? Who knows? Could I get back to sleep? Nope! Suddenly I had a million different little factors that I had to worry about, and they didn’t revolve around flying…
Of course, the flip side to all of this the things I loved about living in a big, modernized sandpit In the Middle East! Such as; the delivery of literally any kind of food imaginable, from sushi to pizza, junk food, breakfast, smoothies …including my favourite, Zaroob, (which is affordable and authentic style Arabic cuisine on a week-before-payday- budget!). Other happy coincidences of living in Dubai were the coveted FACE discount card, the malls and cinemas being open almost 24×7 and, of course, my multitude of multicultural friendships that were only made possible by this whole experience! 🙂
In saying this, when my lovely friends Jane and Justine came to visit, it was like being sucked into an emotional vortex! So many emotions came flooding back (happiness, nostalgia, thankfulness, restlessness to name a few) and having Jane sitting at the dinner table with us in my home town was so surreal I thought my heart would explode with happiness at having some of my favorite people so impossibly NEAR!
Be Patient With Yourself!
At the same time, as we talked rosters and plans for the next month, a sense of calm descended over me. Emotional jetlag was starting to wear off! I wasn’t as tried, emotional as I had been during the transition phrase of coming home, and I took a step back. My advice to any one who is moving away from home (or moving back!) is to be patient! I am the worst at this, and the more time passes, I actually feel like it’s going slower (impossible, I know, but it’s my “things need to be done yesterday” attitude!). Take the time to rest, to sleep, to do your laundry, to adjust, to eat, to laugh and to appreciate! Trust me, it feels much better than forcing yourself into something you’d rather not do, or starving yourself, or trying to stay awake at odd hours without needing to. It’s like salted caramel macaron without the salt- functional, yes, but something is just missing! Our minds + thoughts need time to adjust, to grow and to settle.
I am so grateful for the experience of having lived and worked overseas. This is an opportunity that many (regardless of age) aren’t presented with, and in saying that, I feel as though I am where I am meant to be in my life- making my mark on the world through hard work and perseverance as I tackle this new(old) lifestyle from home. I really feel as though I’ll be able to get the best of both worlds. With lots of new and exciting things on the horizon (including a European escapade and lots more travel planned for the near future), new collaborations for the blog, exciting outings and ideas…what is there not to be grateful for?
Safe and dreamy travels,