How to travel happily if you struggle with anxiety

Since everyday is #mentalhealthday here at House of Coco, we’ve been racking our brains to figure out how we can get our jet setting; career loving readers enjoying travel even more than they already do. We get that is isn’t as easy as pie for everyone, especially if you’re struggling with anxiety.

For many-a-sufferer, holidays can highlight one sad truth: panic doesn’t take a vacation just because you do. The reality is quite the opposite. New places, new people, new sights and new smells can mean travel depicts more images of worry and fear than it does excitement. Sigh.

What’s worse, it’s easy to think you’re alone in your (occasional) holiday hatred. Let’s face it: most people wouldn’t understand that going to the corner shop alone can be your week’s biggest achievement.

In a bid to make it better, we’ve compiled a list of top tips for enjoying your holiday even if you are feeling anxious. Follow these steps and you’ll return being able to give yourself a big old pat on the back. Why? Because you stayed calmer than you did on your last holiday, and that, we tell you, is the biggest achievement of them all.

Plan, prepare and give yourself time.

First things first: a great way to deal with any potentially anxious situation is to give yourself time to prepare. Whether that anxious situation is airport security, a day trip away from your resort or lunch at a hot and busy restaurant, preparation is key.

Pack the essentials before you even leave; by essentials I mean anything that’s going to make you calmer. Headphones to listen to music or meditation when you’re feeling stressed? Check. A good book to help you escape from your surroundings? Check. Mini toiletries for a pamper whenever you’re needing to press refresh? Check again. Seriously. These things will help you out.

Anticipate a potentially anxious situation and fight it head on. Wake up an hour earlier than everyone you’re with, because believe me, staying in bed til the latest moment will only add to your stresses. Organise your things, do your hair, choose an outfit and put some make up on. You’re not getting “too dressed up”, you just know that if you feel your best, then you’re channeling the best version of yourself who CAN face the anxious situation you’re about to. You’re waving goodbye to the worser, bedraggled version who’s really going to struggle. Look good, feel better and stand yourself in good stead.

Maintain a routine as much as possible.

Step two: if you manage your anxiety at home by sticking to a routine, then be sure to maintain that whilst you’re away. Three meals a day, a good nights sleep and regular workouts have a hell of a lot to answer for, so don’t be embarrassed to sneak off to bed when the time feels right. Stop for lunch if fuelling up will make your afternoon more enjoyable, and try and squeeze a few workouts in now and then. You don’t have to throw all routine up in the air just because you’re away. Trust.

Take a travel buddy.

A no brainier, perhaps, but important nonetheless. Make sure the person you’re travelling with knows about, and understands, your worries. Someone who doesn’t understand your anxiety is not going to be a good travel companion, so choose your sidekick wisely and go with someone who can really empathise. After all, what’s worse than Mrs Level Head telling you to calm down? Absolutely nothing.

When things get tough, take a mental health day…

We’re firm believers that these fix *pretty much* everything. If it all gets a bit too much, take a day to have a lie in, pamper yourself and not move further than a 5 meter radius of your bed. And cherish it.

Find a safe haven…

If you’re away from your room and can’t yet make it back, then there is just as much power in finding somewhere you feel safe in everywhere you visit. When you arrive somewhere new, for a day or a week, hunt down where that place might exist. It could be as simple and downright dirty as a public toilet cubicle, but if that is the place you can escape to and gather your thoughts, then you know you always have somewhere to turn.

And don’t feel pressure to be calm just because you’re on holiday.

More important than trying to stay calm in the first place? Riding out anxiety if you can’t. There’s a bit of a stigma that when you’re on holiday you’ve got to be the happiest and most relaxed you ever are, but don’t worry if you do all you can and still feel rubbish. There is no pressure, and fighting an attack will only prolong the process.

If you feel yourself on the edge of an attack, try thinking of yourself in a future place. In a couple of hours or days to come, you’ll get to the point of an evening in or a meal out where you won’t feel as bad as you do now. Look around. Everything is still happening as normal. The girl in the room next door is still getting ready for dinner, and the man in the room below is still excited to see his girlfriend tomorrow.

You’re going to get to your calm and happy point in the future, so remove yourself from the moment. Oh, and one anxious day does not equal a bad holiday. Trust us: you’re doing great.

For support with anxiety and with all other mental health questions, visit Mind today. 

 

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