I recently went on vacation to Mexico City and someone I met there told me the best way to learn a new language is to put yourself in a new country for three months. Though terrifying, hard and stressful, if you really wanted to learn you would totally thank yourself later for doing it. The same goes for adventure: going on one is not easy, but you always thank yourself for JUST DOING IT because afterward, you are better and wiser for it.

Generally, it is easy to talk myself out of foraying into the unknown and doing things like I did in Mexico–leaping into caves, hiking ruins, walking and driving around foreign streets guided by Google maps, eating things from suspect-looking street vendors (without Dukoral). I tend to be a worrier, but I’m also a dreamer who loves deep, transformational experiences. These two parts of me are in constant conflict. (Virgo moon and Pisces sun, for those of you who dig astrology.) Learning how I navigate adventure is important to me. Here were my key learnings from my adventurous vacay:

Opening up to adventurous friends I trust is the best thing I can ever do. I would not have even gone to Mexico this year if it weren’t for my adventurous friends, and accepting this invitation afforded me some of the best memories. In general, the worrying parts of me are liberated by these friends. When I open up to them I allow myself to be supported in really important ways. It’s also helpful to remember why I chose this adventure. Why I wanted this. Why I accepted this. That makes me grateful again when I’m anxious about not knowing exactly where I’m going or what I’m doing.

My inner child is my BEST FRIEND. This is the source of creativity and fun and whimsy in me. A sense of curiosity and play is my inner child’s main mandate and doing things that coax this part out puts things in perspective if I’m feeling uneasy or rattled. It can be as easy as putting a song on that lifts me up. The right music can make me feel more playful.

Visualizing stuff is soothing AF. In the same way that you take a kid to the school ground before the first day of school to get them familiar with the territory, exploring new spaces in your mind before venturing into them is helpful. (This is why I love journaling.) Imagining things going down in a realistic and manageable way is helpful and paves an idea in my head that’s not just a worst-case scenario.

Research helps me feel equipped and capable. Knowledge is power! Finding out about the places I was going/routes I was travelling/basic terminology and words helped me feel more secure before venturing into the unexpected and unknown.

Routine is always possible and its foundation is in ME. Even without being in the same place two days in a row, I can still meditate with my Headspace app daily. I can still do yoga. I can still drink enough water and take vitamins and put pyjamas on before bed. These are the small things that keep me feeling in control of my basic existence, and that’s what keeping anxiety to a minimum is about: reminding my brain that I prioritize self-care no matter what.