Travel and Anxiety – Fighting the Fear

After years of suffering it wasn’t until I turned 18 that I was eventually diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder, or GAD for short. I’d been suffering since I was a child, but it took for a family member to pass for everything to be bought to the surface, and for me to peak to the worse I’d ever been.

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I’d never really traveled much, so flying and going to new places had never been much of a worry for me. That was until this year, when I decided I wanted to start seeing more of the world. Despite knowing that everything will *probably* all go to plan when it comes to flying and staying away from home, getting me through those plane doors isn’t without struggle. Sweaty palms, shallow breathing, the shakes, you name it.

I’m going away with my boyfriend in a few weeks for our first couples holiday, however I’m already panicking about flying, even 3 weeks before. I’ve always been an over thinker, that’s part and parcel of anxiety. However, before any trip, no matter where it is (I got panicked when I visited Selsey for the weekend last week, 20 miles from home), whether there’s a plane involved or not, admitting that traveling sent my anxiety through the roof was hard.

But, I’ve let anxiety control my life enough over the past 20 years, and it’s time I finally took the reigns and told it to sod off. I know, I know, I can almost hear you all shouting at the screens, telling me it isn’t that easy. But in reality, it is, we’re all stronger than that little annoying voice that stops us from doing things we enjoy! Anxiety can often become a bit of a habit, we all get so used to it that it becomes somewhat of a comfort zone, it’s a habit that is ridiculously hard to shake off, however that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible.

Here are some of my top tips for those travelling with anxiety, that I’ve began to swear by!

• Preparation

For me, a lot of my anxiety stems from the anticipation of the trip. Just thinking about flying next month makes my heart start to race. Being ultra prepared for the trip is the best way to help calm my pre-travel nerves.

I’m a renowned worrier (not sure thats a title I’m proud of), but I spend most of my time worrying I haven’t packed something, worried I’ve forgotten an important document or just worrying about worrying. However being prepared for the trip way in advance means I have nothing to worry about.

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• Research Your Arrival

I’m most anxious in the few hours after I’ve arrived in a new place – primarily anxiety thats built up over the course of my flight and being confined to an uncomfortably small space. Also the chances of having 4G when you land to search where you are, are minimal. Make a plan for your arrival, all the way from the plane landing, to arriving at your place of accommodation. Not worrying where I am, or how I’m getting to my hotel makes me feel much more at ease!

• Distraction 

Distraction is key. Nothing will make you realise how much you hate flying, than sitting on the place with just your thoughts. In an ideal world, we would all just switch off from these thoughts, but we all know it isn’t that easy. Finding a way to take my mind of flying always seems to make me worry less, whether that be a good book, my favourite music or blogging. Anything that isn’t remotely related to any of my travel worries and anxieties.

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• Be Kind To Yourself

When I traveled to Prague at the start of summer (my first trip without my family), I came home, burst into tears and decided I was never travelling again. That feeling though, didn’t last long. It only took a month to book another holiday with my partner, and make the choice to challenge my fear of staying away from home and flying again. So go easy on yourself. I’ve learnt it’s best to not beat yourself up about feeling this way and just accept it – the chances are, it’ll pass over, all in good time.

• Perspective

It’s so easy to think you’re the only one that suffers with feeling this way, when in reality, everyone is scared of something, and you’d be surprised by the amount of people scared of traveling! Remember anxiety doesn’t define you, it only starts to when you let it. If you take the reigns and challenge it, saying yes to things that make you feel uncomfortable, thats when you really start living!

Han x

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