Anxious people and travel often do not mix in the wanderlust-themed soup of life. For the anxious soul, travel is too unknown to be comprehensible. New roads, cars, rooms, restaurants, people, and spaces…the unfamiliar territory is daunting. I want to let you in on a little secret: the joy of adventure always outweighs the fear.
“I would rather have a panic attack on a beach in Brazil, than in my living room.”
Let’s say you are at a crossroads, (the travel-themed metaphors are just TOO easy) and your options are to stay home or go on an adventure. I guarantee most anxious people will be consumed by option A.
“Well, if I just stay home and rest this one time, I’ll be better prepared for next time”
“I’m tired and I think I’ll just watch a movie at home”
“I don’t have the right clothes/gear for that, so I’m going to pass”
“I’m swamped with work, I just can’t get away for the afternoon”
Guess what? I call bullshit on all those answers. Anxiety likes to dictate the initial response to questions and call the shots. After years of dealing with panic, I still catch myself slipping into the default mode of “oh, no thanks…not this time.” CHALLENGE THAT THINKING.
Travel is this beautiful gift that allows up to pause reality and submerge into a hidden world where the potential is limitless. If you want to be a carefree hippie-wood nymph and traverse throughout the woods, you can. If you want to get a tattoo in Myrtle Beach (not recommended based on personal experience) then go for it! Traveling allows you to shed that timid shell and explore your true persona in a new environment.
The next time someone asks you to travel (an afternoon/day/week), pause before you answer. Reflect on this idea: Anxiety does not have to travel with you. What if you could leave her at home to veg on the couch while you explore the world. She doesn’t deserve to come on an awesome trip.
At the height on my anxiety, long car rides would be difficult. I would ruminate on all of the things that could go wrong once we got to the destination. Now, I focus on enjoying uninterrupted time with my fiance. I focus on being mindful and present on the experience instead of catasterbating (patent pending on that word…kinda).
Here are a few tips that I use to make traveling an awesome experience:
- If we are hiking, we map out the trail and share the latitude/longitude with friends so if we get eaten by a bear, they can find our gear and fight over the good stuff
- Use google maps to see a “street view” of where you are going. Visualizing the new location can alleviate some bad vibes
- Check the weather…duh.
- Stack the deck
- There is nothing wrong with bringing parts of your toolbox (see previous post!)
- essential oils, a favorite mantra, a book are all great supporting objects during travel
- Be rested, stay hydrated, eat well…when your body is healthy, your mind will follow along
- Be mindful to focus on the experience, not the anxiety
- You are having a beautiful moment in a new place, simply enjoy it
I finish with a caveat. We love to travel and 80% of the time, I’m a badass travel buddy. There are still times I get overwhelmed. I HATE flying and I drink myself into stupor to board the flying germ tube. I also still deal with occasional anxiety while driving on the highway. I ignore the feeling and zone out to some nerdy podcast instead of trying to figure out what I’m feeling. Is that therapeutic? Nope. Is that the healthy, hippie way to cope? Hell no. Is that the yogi-granola way to heal? Naw. But, it’s a process and a journey. I’m striving for integrity and raw writing…not perfection.
Love and light.
Enjoy some pictures from my travels over the last month
Our ‘hotel’ for the night during a camping trip
Watching the waves in Sunset Beach
Exploring downtown Wilmington, NC