Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Eight Golden Rules For Travelling With Anxiety | #LetsTalkMentalHealth


Travelling has always been on of my favourite pastimes. There is something so exciting about arriving in a foreign place and experiencing it all for the first time, even if it is in the same country. However, anxiety (there is no blunt way of putting it...) is a b*tch!

Being thrown completely out of my comfort zone into an unfamiliar town or city can trigger my anxiety and I hate it. Last year I spent a good portion of my time in Kefalonia curled up in a ball on my bed, occasionally venturing out to curl up on a sun lounger and counting down the days until our flight home. When I get like this, the only thing I can clearly focus on is getting home and I tend to shy away when it comes to socialising or exploring the nook and crannies of a new place. This is not in any way shape or form my idea of 'travelling'.

After my Kefalonia catastrophe, I remember sitting down and actually researching ways to reduce travel anxiety/anxiety away from home. After numerous trial and error freak-out scenarios, I now have multiple coping mechanisms I try to stick to to help prevent and cope with anxiety whilst travelling, hence my eight golden rules:

Have Plenty of Distractions
I have never found the actual journey part of my travels the thing that I struggle with, however I do get bored. Before leaving the airport or preparing for a long car journey, I always make sure that I have plenty of distractions that will easily fit into my handbag. This includes downloading my favourite music, reading a good book or even giving my nails a little TLC. I also especially love the adult colouring books you can now buy, some of which are specifically designed to reduce anxiety and stress. Most of these items I use as a personal down time and have come in useful at some point during a holiday in the past.

Plan Ahead
Even before I have fully booked my flight tickets you can bet that I am already planning ahead. I will be thinking about the packing, transportation, what we'll eat, what we'll spend, even the amount of just in case money we'll take... y'know, just in case. I also like to be knowledgable about the place I will be visiting. Whether it be booking a museum tour or finding out where the nearest beach is just so I have that little bit more understanding to help me get by and continue to make plans throughout my time there.

Pace Yourself
I understand the need to see as much as possible in a new place is undeniable but just remember that sometimes doing something every minute of the day isn't always the right way to go about it. Having a strict itinerary may cause more stress and hassle than it's worth. If it's good for you then sure, go for it! Just know it is ok to take it slow and have a break every now and again.

Form a Routine
If you really struggle with anxiety whilst travelling, try to fit a normal part of your everyday routine into your day abroad and continue this throughout the rest of you time there. For example, if you participate in some sort of sport on a daily basis at home (even if it is walking the dog) then whilst you're away try to incorporate this into your daily routine. Set your alarm clock and go for a run, every morning. That way every morning will start the same no matter what the rest of the day might hold. Running is also a great way to decrease stress, plus more exercise means more ice cream surely.

Avoid Your Triggers
If you know what triggers your anxiety, try to avoid it. Personally this means avoiding loud noises and tight, crowded places such as a bar or a nightclub. I also know that drinking alcohol in general doesn't exactly help the situation so I tend to stay sober on a night out anywhere. Besides, virgin mojito's are the bomb!

Set Money Aside For a Bad Day
If you have a low day and the worst comes to worse, spend some time focusing on just you. Treat yourself on something you wouldn't usually do travelling and take that time to relax and settle back into your right frame of mind. Book yourself in at a spa or spend the entire day curled up, watching DVD's and eating takeout.

Stay in Touch
Remember to keep in touch with family and friends back home. Tell them about what you've been up to, the places you've seen and the people you've met and send them a buttload of photos. Also keep in the loop with all the gossip back home! How that friend of a friend might have started dating someone you know, or even how the animal you have left behind is getting on. By staying in touch you are continuing to form part of you routine and (in my own opinion) surrounding yourself with the company of people you know and love will always make you feel better.

Remind Yourself Why You're Doing This
If you're having a bad day, remind yourself why you chose to go away in the first place. Was it to meet new people? Visit that museum or cross the Golden Gate Bride? Was it to eat actual Thai food or to relax on a sunny beach? Think about the experiences you will gain and be proud that you are actually there, doing it for yourself. I remind myself how I wouldn't be able to see that pretty sunset from my bedroom window. That works quite nicely.

So far, these eight tips seem to be working for me. I feel so much more confident and up for doing activities and socialising with new people when I'm away from home. Of course I still have the occasional hiccups, but when has anyone ever had smooth sailing?

I hope you enjoyed todays blog post. If you have any other tips as to coping with anxiety whilst travelling, feel free to leave me a comment - I would love to hear from you! See you again next week!

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23 comments

  1. Loved reading this post! I'm traveling tommorow and I get really scared and anxious on planes and on other transportation, and this really helped me calm down a bit and do some planning and pack some extra things! Loved the idea about adult coloring books, so I'm going to try that! Xoxo

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    1. Thank you lovely - they're amazing haha I have one that I take most places now and it really comes in useful :) I hope it goes well for you tomorrow x

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  2. I remember having a panic attack during my 7th grade field trip to SF. It was such a scary experience! Thankfully I had great friends to help calm me down!

    www.thebeautydojo.com

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    1. Friends are always a great help haha I'm glad you got through it x

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  3. Although I have social anxiety, I have never experienced a bad one while travelling and that I am super happy about. These 8 rules are amazing and I can imagine that they do help a lot in case of anxiety :) x

    -Leta | The Nerdy Me

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    1. That's good! And they really help me I hope they work for others reading too x

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  4. Great post dear Beth

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  5. I've literally just gotten back from a holiday away and I could so have done with reading this before I went. My anxiety rocketed with being away and out of my comfort zone/usual routine, but I'm glad I went and managed to get through it, even if there were horrible times of anxiety and I suffered a few panic attacks. At least I went and enjoyed myself when I wasn't feeling so anxious xx

    Lauren | itslaurenvictoria.blogspotco.uk

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    1. Try not to think too much of it and be proud of how far you came. You managed to get through the holiday and enjoy yourself despite feeling anxious somedays which is pretty amazing haha. I hope you feel better soon xx

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  6. I absolutely love this post Beth! It's so important to talk about such a 'taboo' topic such as mental health, especially in such a relatable way. It definitely will help others in thinking that they are not alone.

    :)

    X
    Anjelique
    http://anjelique.com.au | snapchat: anjeliquetv

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    1. Thank you, I feel the same and I hope so x

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  7. I don't suffer with anxiety myself but I think your experience has definitely helped you offer some incredibly helpful suggestions for both those with anxiety and actually those without too!

    Musings & More

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  8. This was a really informational read. I appreciate you having the time to write and talk about such an important issue. A lot of people out there are thanking you for this. Great job!

    annescribblesanddoodles.blogspot.com | Bloglovin' | Instagram

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    1. aw thank you - I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

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  9. thank you for your great post
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  10. Love it and awesome post xx

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