Travelling and holidays are mostly seen as great ways to relax and recuperate.
However as the Summer holiday time arrives, I have clients who are finding it all incredibly stressful and very triggering for their anxiety. So how can something we all seem to long for cause us so much stress?
As I sat on a train station in Croatia, with a broken train and the prospect of a long bus journey ahead, I felt my anxiety rising.
I hate buses, feel travel sick and frankly cope badly with changed plans. I felt my temper rising and my inner critic raging that I should have flown rather than taken the train. With a bit of self coaching to “remain curious”, I got on the bus and actually arrived early in Zagreb having made a friend and seen a new landscape!
I am a firm believer that challenging yourself with travel is as vital for those with anxiety as everyone else, perhaps even more so. Anxiety should never get in the way of having an amazing experience.
Making yourself feel safe and planning is great, but learning to handle change and problems builds resilience and can make you feel incredibly proud of yourself as you overcome them.
As an anxious traveller myself (who has travelled a lot despite this), I recommend the following:
Arrive early and give yourself plenty of time. Anxiety feeds off uncertainty, so building in a buffer is ideal to manage that inner critic. Others in your group might get irritated, be clear and honest that you need this for a smoother journey.
- I have been known to travel early to places alone, then meet others there. I care far less about what others think now!
- Go somewhere you feel comfortable and know what to expect, but build in small surpises which you will enjoy; a new city or way to get there for instance.
- Anxiety often manifests in us wanting to control everything, but of course we can’t! Have something you say to yourself which consoles you, “this may now work out exactly as I want, but it will work out!” as an example.
- Congratulate the small wins and be kind to yourself throughout your trip. speaking to yourself if a gentle tone, whilst ignoring the inner critic if it rages.
With some very simple strategies to manage your anxiety, you can have a wonderful holiday and will be so incredibly proud of yourself, have a lovely time.