Let’s be honest. If you suffer from persistent anxiety, traveling far from home (no matter how luxurious the destination) does not feel great.
There are uncertain weather patterns, uncomfortable interactions with strangers, disturbed sleeping and eating routines, and worrisome thoughts about being judged as a killjoy.
The truth? Anxiety doesn’t take a vacation. The struggle is still real. But worry and fear can also be managed. Even far away from the safety and security of what you know. Here’s how:
6 Ways to Relieve Anxiety on Your Vacation
1. Plan and Prepare Well: Organization Helps Mitigate Panic
When things are unfamiliar or feel unreliable, anxiety can start to rise. Do you get unnerved by the idea of getting lost in a new city? Do you fear not knowing who to call in case of emergency? Are you distressed by the constant stream of conversation and interaction in airports, resorts, etc?
You need a solid vacation plan.
Manage your vacation travels and experiences by planning in advance as much as you can. The following tips are helpful:
• List your accommodations, (confirmation numbers, addresses, phone numbers, contact name).
• Create a daily itinerary to keep uncertainty to a minimum.
• Organize necessary tickets, ID, documents, etc. to feel more in control and prepared.
2. Do What You Can to Reduce Risks: Sensible Safety Measures Ease Stress
Anxiety is often exacerbated when sufferers feel unsafe. To avoid triggering panic or worry, accept that traveling necessarily removes you from your comfort zone. Though the unexpected cannot be totally ruled out, you can minimize risk in these ways:
• Protect against illness: buy travelers insurance with additional medical coverage.
• Guard against theft: keep valuables at home or put items in the hotel safe as soon as possible.
• Defend against lost documentation or identification: or your passport: keep important paperwork stowed away safely in your luggage or, again, the hotel safe.
3. Don’t Forget Your Traveling Companions: Comfort and Support are Soothing
To maintain calm and comfort, familiar things and people can enhance travel enjoyment immensely. As you navigate the new environment, keep a few things from home with you. Some people enjoy a travel candle or fabric spray that smells like their own bedroom or kitchen. Bring photos, your favorite water bottle or freshly laundered towels. These objects aid your sensory experience, helping you feel grounded if you feel panicked by an unfamiliar place.
In addition, if you can, travel with a supportive partner, friend or loved one. Having someone with you can help you focus on having a good time and interrupt unhelpful mental chatter when you feel stressed.
4. Stay Intentionally Present & Positive: Focused Thinking Can Boost Fun
Anxiety thrives on “what ifs” and negative thinking. You need to remain mindful and aware to prevent upending your enjoyment with catastrophic rumination. To keep worry from escalating, you’ll do well to practice challenging anxious thoughts.
To defeat your focus on worst-case scenarios, slowly and methodically train your thoughts on more positive, realistic outcomes. What is likely to happen as you travel rather than what you imagine could happen?
5. Remember to Actually Slow Down: Break & Deep Breathing Boost Relaxation
If you are doing some significant travel or taking a dream trip, your expectations may get the best of you. This may be a recipe for disappointment and exhaustion.
Remind yourself that vacations are meant to be restful. Relegate sightseeing and activities to just a few days. Even then, slow down and drink in the beauty and import of your trip. Make your trip meaningful by taking breaks. Make more memories by limiting the rushing about.
6. Consider the Return to Routines: Strategic Scheduling Makes Jumping In Easier
Perhaps the most worrisome thing for you about vacationing is what waits for you when you return. If you can’t relax because you’re too anxious about what you’re missing (mounting household chores, a growing inbox at work, etc.) take preventative action.
Plan reentry to everyday life by heading back a day before your first work day. Unpack, sift through the mail, settle into the familiar without rushing into your routine. Don’t be afraid to reach out to loved ones and coworkers too to help keep things running smoothly while you’re vacationing.
Take the first step…
If you struggle with persistent anxiety, and you’re ready to start resolving those issues during your vacation and beyond, I would like to help.
Please contact me via phone or email so we can discuss how we might work together to achieve your therapeutic goals as quickly and effectively as possible.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Linda K. Laffey, MFT