This article is a collaboration with Adventurous Alysha. Read the original article here!
Living with anxiety, to some outsiders, might seem like there’s an on/off switch. One where you can decide to put anxiety in your back pocket until a more convenient time to deal with it. Which would be perfect, especially when dealing with anxiety when you travel. But the reality is that anxiety waits for no one. It decides when and where to show up, and most of the time, it’s for no real reason at all. So having a love for travel, mainly solo travel at that, can become extraordinarily difficult at times. As someone who has experienced most of what anxiety has to offer over about 11 years, and at all inconvenient times, I’ve come to find a few ways to deal with it on the road. So here are seven ways to deal with anxiety when you travel.
I know this sounds a little silly, considering that you can never really be fully prepared. But know your body, know your triggers and prepare if you can. One of my biggest triggers is plane travel, so I take things to distract me, like good books, podcasts, find-a-word puzzles, music etc.
Anyone who has ever talked about anxiety will tell you to breathe, and it seems pretty straightforward. But during a panic attack, all logic goes out the window. Try and concentrate on your breath as much as possible, listen to it flowing in and out of your body, and focus to slow it down.
Sometimes, the scariest thing about traveling, especially alone, is going out and exploring the place you’re in; especially when you’re experiencing a little culture shock. So note that it’s okay to just settle for a while. You’ve already made it to somewhere you might not have thought you could, so take time to relax. You don’t have to go out and do it all today. If visiting a coffee shop for an hour is the best you can do today, then that’s okay!
There are plenty of times when missing your loved ones or home can make you feel anxious. When the fear of unfamiliar territory hits you, take the time to do something familiar. I usually take a crystal or bracelet with me traveling that someone in my family gave me, or buy something that reminds me of a smell from home; like jasmine in my Grandmother’s garden. It seems simple but the power of familiarity might just make you feel better.
5. Use the 5 4 3 2 1 method
This is a new technique I’ve been trying lately, and it has really been working for me. It’s called the 5,4,3,2,1. When you feel overwhelmed, or are feeling distressed, practice this method to bring you back to your physical senses. Find 5 things that you can see, 4 things that you can touch, 3 things that you can hear, 2 that you can smell, and 1 that you can taste.
Living with anxiety usually means we’re WAY too hard on ourselves. We seem to always expect 125%, constantly. So it’s super important when you’re feeling overwhelmed, or just in general, to reflect on just how far you’ve come. If you’re sitting in a hostel in Puerto Rico, overwhelmed that you don’t speak the language and are pretty far from home – just remind yourself that you made it to Puerto Rico alone in the first place. You’re braver and more capable than you often give yourself credit for.
7. Make use of oils
There are plenty of essential oils and sprays out there that are natural and healthy, that can help ease your anxiety. I’ve recently used a roll-on oil made especially for women that helped calm me on my 24-hour flight to the UK. Other options to look into could be lavender, mint, and magnesium to name a few. Get researching and make use of what is available, and what could work for you.
There are plenty of ways to cope with anxiety when you travel, but it’s important to recognise that not every way will work for you. And what works best for you, might not work best for someone else. It’s a matter of trying different things and knowing your body and mind. Travel can be intense for anyone, let alone those of us living with anxiety, so let’s support each other. Challenge your limits through travel and adventure using these 7 tips, you’ll be surprised at just how capable you are.