Let’s talk about anxiety.
Often unseen, yet all too real – especially while traveling!
I think it’s safe to say we’ve all experienced anxiety at some point. Whether it’s nerves before a big presentation, a nagging worry about a dwindling bank account, or that feeling in your stomach as the airplane takes off – anxiety comes in many forms.
Last summer I had my first real anxiety attack and it was, in all honesty, terrifying. And of course it had to happen while I was traveling! There I was, locked in a car, driving away from the comforts of home, all the while feeling like I might just die. My heart was racing, my body was buzzing and my brain was going absolutely insane. I didn’t understand what was happening to me or why – I was supposed to be having fun! But I couldn’t get a grip on reality or catch my breath, and I ended up going into complete panic mode… for absolutely no reason.
It may sound strange, but unless you’ve experienced anxiety it can be difficult to understand. It comes and goes whenever it damn well pleases, and it can completely throw you off your game – or ruin your vacation!
But good news is, a) you’re definitely not alone, and b) anxiety can be tamed if you have the right tools.
I think traveling often causes feelings of anxiety because you’re going into unfamiliar territory and potentially risky situations. Is there anyone who gets on plane and doesn’t think about it crashing or being hijacked? At least for a split second? I’m just saying… traveling means experiencing new things, and sometimes new things can seem scary.
But new things are amazing and wonderful and exciting, so it’s time to tame that anxiety and enjoy your travels!
Next time you feel anxiety creep in, try any (or all) of these suggestions to calm down and snap back into reality.
1. Just breathe
This is the simplest and most effective way to calm anxiety. Close your eyes and take a few deep belly breaths. Breathing into your belly helps silence your body’s “fight or flight” response, which causes panicky feelings.
This is a play off of breathing, but it’s seriously helpful! I use the Calm app daily. It allows you to download guided meditation sessions so you can listen to them without wifi – aka while on an airplane, the top of a mountain or out at sea. Whenever I start to feel anxious I pop in my headphones and center myself. If you’re more of a book person I recommend checking out 8 Minute Meditation – short, simple and teaches you multiple meditation techniques.
3. Talk to yourself
You know, they say some of the most successful people talk to themselves all the time. Just as you might be trying to work out a math problem, talking to yourself about your feelings of anxiety can help calm them. Remind yourself that “this too shall pass” and everything is going to be ok. Just try not to talk too loud or vulgarly if you’re sitting next to a stranger…
4. Focus on the good
If you’re traveling then there’s a good chance you’re on your way to some fun. Instead of focusing on the tricks your brain is playing, shift your attention to the positive. If you’re visiting friends or family, focus on how excited you are to see them. If you’re traveling to somewhere new, visualize yourself walking through the city streets or watching sunsets on the beach. And this trick works for professionals too! Try focusing on what it will feel like when you totally crush your presentation, or imagine meeting someone who changes your life while on your work trip. Focusing on the positive can shift your mood and trick your brain out of anxiety. It’s something I try to do every day, because hasn’t everyone heard of The Secret by now!?
These are just four suggestions for taming your travel anxiety (and anxiety in general!). What are some other tools you use to calm down when you’re feeling anxious? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below!
Happy and peaceful travels 🙂