Coping With Anxiety While Traveling
From time to time I will see an article cross one of my social media feeds with “Tips for Traveling With Anxiety.” I click. I always click. Traveling for those of us with anxiety issues can be really tough. Some have great advice, an some leave you feeling like you should never leave your house again. “Avoid Crowds!” “Stay away from places with loud noises!” Unless you are going to go plop yourself down on a beach somewhere and not move, that isn’t really possible and you can miss out on some really wonderful experiences. So I thought I’d add my voice to the many and share some of the coping techniques I have found helpful for those of us who are Adorably Neurotic. That’s a thing, right? Let’s say that’s a thing.
- Don’t ignore your anxiety when you are planning: This is easy to do, but having a plan is going to be your best friend. You will not be a different person on holiday than you are in your normal life so plan accordingly. Plan to go slow. Plan for breaks. Plan to go to high visitor volume sights in the early morning before the big crowds start forming. Plan your food breaks and restaurants if that will make you feel more secure. Even if you know won’t follow it to the letter, have a plan anyway.
- Make a playlist of music that makes you feel amazing: I do this before almost every trip. Loud noises are a huge trigger for me and big cities tend to have a lot of construction going on, so if I’m forced to listen to a jackhammer for an hour, I have an out. I pop on the headphone, start the playlist, and pretty soon I’m calm again.
- Find something pretty to look at and take a break: I love finding gardens where I can sit down and just look at something beautiful for a while. A little oxytocin boost is good for everyone and it’s a bonus if Lu can run around and explore a little more freely than on the city street. This is also a good time to practice breathing techniques if you find those helpful. I also like to add in some stops in churches or less visited cathedrals. They can be counted on to be beautiful and quiet and a great place to meditate or pray.
- Find a physical activity to get your blood pumping: Do some yoga. Take a run in the early morning when you can have the world almost all to yourself. Rent a bike or use a bike share service to take a ride through a park. Biking on unknown busy streets might not be a great idea, but there are usually parks where you can bike around and get your heart rate up for a bit.
- Pay attention to your diet: Travel can really take a toll on the digestive system which can make anxiety worse. Dehydration can also make matters worse. Make sure you are still getting plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables even if you are indulging in the local fare. Stop at a grocery and load up on vitamin rich foods so your body continues to help you out and drink as much water as you can.
Do you suffer from anxiety? What coping techniques work for you?
Just a note: I am not a mental health professional, just a sufferer of anxiety, so be sure to consult your doctor for advice specific to you.