There’s no denying that travel can be exhilarating, educational, and just plain old fun — but it can also be fraught with complications and snafus.
Hurrying to catch your flight, struggling with unwieldy luggage, and feeling uncertainty when faced with a foreign language and/or customs can all leave you feeling like you need a vacation from your vacation!
If you live with an anxiety disorder, the potential pitfalls are even more stress-inducing. That’s why we’ve put together this list of the best anxiety tips to help your travels go smoothly.
Anxiety often occurs in the wake of uncertainty. While some people enjoy vacations that allow them to play it by ear, others find that an open-ended schedule increases their anxiety.
This is particularly true when it comes to transportation and accommodations. Before you start off on your journey, book a hotel room or Airbnb. Research transportation options on the internet, or speak with a travel consultant. You can learn more about consultants here.
Knowing where you’re going and how you’ll get there can go a long way towards helping you relax and enjoy yourself.
Similarly, it may ease your stress to know that you have everything you need. Before you begin packing, make a list of items to take with you. If you’re flying, divide that list into what you will pack in your carry on bag, and which items can go into your checked luggage.
By using a list and checking items off as you go, you reduce the possibility of being stranded on a remote beach without sunscreen, or forgetting the heels that go with your cocktail dress.
Fear of Flying?
Aviophobia is the fear of flying, and it’s extremely common. There are a number of tricks and tips to help distract yourself while in the air.
And although it may be tempting to order yourself a cocktail or glass of wine to steady your frayed nerves, experts say that’s not such a good idea. Your mind is more apt to imagine worst-case scenarios when under the influence. In the unlikely event that something does go wrong, you will want to have your wits about you.
Drinking alcohol also contributes to dehydration, which is already a risk on stuffy, crowded planes. When the drink cart comes around, choose mineral water instead of a gin and tonic.
Try a Supplement
Some people turn to pharmaceutical help for their anxiety, and the occasional Xanax can really take the edge off. However, there are also many all-natural supplements that could have a similar calming effect.
Kava root, valerian root, lemon balm, passionflower, and chamomile are all great herbal remedies to try. Another supplement that many anxiety sufferers swear by is Rescue Remedy, a botanical supplement.
Before you head out on your trip, take the time to learn some simple breathing exercises for anxiety. Stress and fear can cause us to take shallow breaths, further ratcheting up the anxious feelings.
Regulating and focusing on your breath works wonders to signal to your body that everything is A-OK. Back up this physiological effect by turning to the power of positive thinking.
It might not come easily to you, but over time, training your brain to choose optimism can have incredible rewards.
Meditation and Mindfulness
These centuries-old practices have become trendy in the past several years, but they’re not just a passing fad. Mindfulness involves quietly observing your emotions, thoughts, and reactions in a nonjudgmental manner.
If you can view your anxiety from a position of detachment, it may pass more quickly.
Check out Headspace, a popular meditation app that guides you every step of the way.
Mindfulness not doing it for you? Maybe going the distraction route can do the trick. Watch a funny movie, or lose yourself in the pages of a thriller.
There’s a reason those airport bookstores are stocked with mysteries and suspense novels! If you’re driving to your destination, try an audiobook so you can be entertained while staying safe behind the wheel.
Move Your Body
Practicing yoga has been scientifically proven to combat anxiety, so get your downward-facing dog on! If you aren’t keen on public displays of yoga, or are sitting in an airplane or automobile, try some neck rolls.
Since many people carry stress in their necks and shoulders, here’s another quick fix: while inhaling deeply, lift your shoulders as high as you can, squeezing them toward your ears. Hold for a few seconds, then release as you exhale. Repeat as necessary.
If you’re traveling with a spouse or close friend, asking them to give you a brief massage is another great way to get relief from muscle tension borne of anxiety.
Confide in a Friend
Tell your traveling companions about your anxiety. There’s no shame in it, and trying to hide your emotions can cause additional stress. Sometimes it helps just to talk about what’s making you anxious.
Your family members or friends might also be able to help in a concrete way. They could volunteer to book the rental car, encourage you to remember those breathing techniques, or just chat about all the fun you’re going to have together once you reach your destination.
A Little Self-Care Goes a Long Way
Another common stressor when it comes to vacations? The pressure to see all the sights, visit the best restaurants, and otherwise cram in as much activity as possible. But if you’re experiencing anxiety, such a tightly-packed schedule becomes a lot less enjoyable.
It’s perfectly fine to spend an afternoon reading in bed rather than snorkeling, or to relax in the jacuzzi rather than take a walking tour.
If your accommodations include an onsite spa, take advantage of it! A massage, facial, or mani-pedi can go a long way toward relaxing you — so you can fully enjoy the rest of your trip.
Which Anxiety Tips Are You Eager To Try?
We hope that these proven anxiety tips will help your next travel adventure to go as smoothly as possible.
For more informative articles on health and well-being, bookmark the Healthy Living section of our blog and check back frequently for new posts!