HOW TO: Cope with and Manage Travel Anxiety
I struggle with anxiety when it comes to many things. Most of these are triggered by things that make me either feel out of control, when I feel overwhelmed or things that surround my own personal body image.
As you've probably noticed if you've been following along for a while is that I do A LOT of traveling - particularly flying. So, over the years I have learnt many ways to cope and overcome anxiety surrounding travel. Just because you see me traveling a lot it doesn't mean it's not anxiety provoking for me but learning to deal and overcome this is growth and isn't that the aim with our mental health to grow and change to become stronger?
For me personally, a lot of the anxieties come before the actual day of travel or when I am un-organised or unprepared so being prepared is key but there are may other ways I have found that help. Just so you know this is not focused on a fear of flying but other aspects too that contribute to the anxiety surrounding travel. Like with every type of anxiety there are different levels of severity from mild which might be settled with a glass of wine to calm the nerves right up to severe or debilitating which could cause panic attacks and stop you from traveling all together.
HOW TO COPE AND MANAGE TRAVEL ANXIETY (so you can see the world too):
- Pack the day (or 2) before - never the day of travel.
There's nothing worse than trying to pack in a rush so schedule some time to pack in advance. I also like to lay out my outfit for the plane so I know I'm ready to go.
- Allow extra time for travel and security.
This is one I am still trying to work on (because I'm always late these days) but I know ALWAYS helps me. Allow to arrive at the airport at least 30 minutes before you NEED to be there. Running late is a huge trigger for anxiety and once it's triggered it can spiral quickly. This is even more important if you're travelling with kids as we all know how long they can take to do EVERYTHING!!
- Wear comfortable clothing.
Sound strange? I know it does, but honestly being comfortable and unrestricted on a plane can help relieve anxiety. Flying in general but also Tight, restrictive clothing can cause bloating and when you're already anxious your stomach can naturally bloat. I like to wear floaty dresses or comfy slouch pants when flying. Ditch the high waist skinny jeans or body con dresses. If you need to get changed once you get off the flight if you're heading straight to an event or meeting. TRY IT!! It also works for driving or train trips where you have to sit down for extended periods of time.
- Sit at the front or right at the back of the plane.
If you can choose or ask to sit either toward the front or back of the plane so that it is quicker and easier for you to board and disembark. This is especially good if you struggle with enclosed spaces.
- Board Last
Crowds and cues trigger anxiety so sit and wait at the gate for your flight to board and then board towards the end so you're not stuck in the line waiting or among the crowd boarding.
- Check your baggage.
The more things you have to worry about the more you will worry. If you can afford to always choose to check your baggage and travel as light as possible.
If take off and landing scare you (they do me) make sure you pack your headphones and listen to your favourite tunes. I like to close my eyes and try to focus on the music (or Millie if I'm holding her).
- Eat a healthy meal before boarding.
Don't travel on an empty stomach (you will feel nauseous) and avoid fatty/unhealthy meals before flying which could end up making you feel bloated or sick. The last thing you want when you're at all anxious is to feel sick. Anxiety can also trigger your travel sickness. If you suffer badly from travel anxiety avoid eating too much on the plane during shorter flights and instead sip some water and take some dry crackers or healthy snacks in case you need. If you're flying long-haul then pack some healthy snacks to avoid over eating airplane food.
- Medication, natural remedies + more.
This is for those who are suffering very badly or those who avoid traveling all together because of their anxiety. Chat to your medical professional about options to help manage anxiety during travel. There are plenty of options including prescription or over the counter medication, natural medicines, acupuncture, hypnotism, essential oils and counselling that can help you to over come your fears and manage your anxiety.
- Breathing techniques, Mantras and positive affirmations.
These are 3 things I use no matter what is causing my anxiety in life. Learn to breathe deep and focus on your breath. Have your positive affirmations saved in the notes on your phone so you can repeat them if you feel yourself spiraling out of control or when the anxiety starts to kick in. "This to shall pass" is always my favourite an go-to as I believe it suits most situations especially for travel and flying.
- Be prepared that something might not go to plan.
Unfortunately you cannot control everything and you may have a few little set backs or delays along the way while traveling. The traffic might be heavy on your way to the airport, your flight might be delayed or cancelled, you might have forgotten to pack something, your bag could go missing or you might accidentally spill your drink on the passenger next to you. Not every moment is always perfect so instead of worrying about things outside of your control focus on what you can control.
Finally, I just wanted to say that I was overwhelmed with how many women contacted me while I was away saying that they won't travel because of their anxiety. I know it is hard but the more you do it and the more you step outside of your comfort zone the more you will grow and learn to cope. The world is absolutely incredible and there are so many places that you deserve to see. If your anxiety is so bad that it stops you from travelling I would highly recommend seeking help from a psychologist - my own one helped me to over come and cope with that need to control every situation and things that are out of my control which in turn helped me with my fears of flights, elevators and enclosed spaces.
Good luck and I hope this helped!