I just got back from a vacation in Antigua, and for the first time in a very long time, anxiety did not tag along for the ride. Throw the confetti and pop the (non-alcoholic) bubbly because this is not the usual for me.
While travel is super exciting, fun and enriching, it can also stir up a lot of emotions as you move out of your comfort zone and into the unfamiliar. Add in time changes, new food, travel logistics and in some cases work demands, and it’s totally reasonable to experience moments of unease while on the go.
Personally, I feel anxious almost every time I leave Scott and the kids. Sometimes, my mind even tells me it will be the last time I see them. I’ll get anxiety at the airport for no reason, and it feels like I can’t think clearly. When this happens, I almost always wonder why I’m leaving and I often wish I hadn’t booked the trip at all. Hear more about this in this episode of the Raw Beauty Talks podcast episode, “Travel Tips for Anyone with Anxiety.“
Thankfully, there are several steps we can take to support our minds and bodies. These steps can quell anxiety symptoms so that your nerves don’t hold you back from experiencing life – and travel!
Here are a few things that help me and may help you, too:
1. Plan ahead.
Preparing for a trip is key; it can help to reduce anxiety by helping you to feel more in control. Here are a few ways you can plan ahead:
- Get a passport and form holder so that all of your important travel documents are in one place. If I’m traveling with my amazing husband he usually takes the lead with this one and I keep my eye on the gates and get us drinks to sip on 😉
- Bring a fanny pack (like this Lululemon one) so that you can keep your phone, wallet, and lip balm easily accessible.
- Pause frequently so you can ask yourself: Do I have everything?
- In your carry-on bag, pack magnesium, chamomile tea packs, and your medication (if you have it).
- Download a couple of calming meditations on your phone (I love using Insight Timer) that you can listen to in moments of heightened anxiety in the airport or on your flight.
- Give yourself lots of extra time so that if something goes wrong, you know you’ll still make your flight.
2. Pack wisely.
To reduce overwhelm, give yourself lots of time to pack.
Make sure you bring items that provide comfort. For example, maybe you pack a familiar blanket or a favourite book in your carry-on bag.
If I have an early or late flight, I always bring a small blanket, noise-cancelling headphones (in case there’s an upset baby or other loud noises), an eye mask, lavender oil, and my neck pillow with a clean pillow case. Yes, this might sound high maintenance, but these are items that help to keep me more comfortable. If you have certain items that bring you comfort and sense of ease, make sure you pack them in your carry-on bag – it’s what it’s for!
3. Practice relaxation techniques.
Techniques like deep breathing, meditation, and yoga can help to calm the mind, regulate the nervous system, and reduce anxiety. As I’m navigating the airport, I practice 5-5-7 breathing, meaning I breathe in for five seconds, hold for five seconds, and exhale for seven seconds. I repeat this breath as many times as I need to feel at ease again.
4. Get enough sleep.
We’ve all heard how crucial quality sleep is when it comes to our physical and emotional well-being. When keeping anxiety at bay, this step is key; being low on sleep can cause anxiety to become amplified. If I’m travelling with a group, I sometimes feel like I’m being annoying when I can’t keep up with everyone’s schedule, but I know myself well enough that I’d rather prioritize my mental health than a group breakfast.
If you’re taking a red-eye or you are navigating a time change, getting enough sleep can be tough. Aside from packing your comfort items in your carry-on bag for the plane, try to make sure the first couple of days upon your arrival aren’t fully booked so that you have time to take a nap, sleep-in longer if need-be, and simply land in your new environment.
5. Take care of yourself.
Just because you’re travelling doesn’t mean you need to completely abandon your self-care routine. While your schedule may look different, you can still eat intuitively, fuel your body with food every two to three hours, exercise, and stay hydrated. All of these things will help to keep your nervous system regulated and your body balanced.
6. Be open to change.
While you can do everything in your power to be as organized and prepared as possible, sometimes things don’t go as planned. If that’s the case on your trip, try your best to be flexible and open to change. Sometimes, letting ourselves go with the flow can reduce stress!
7. Seek support.
If you struggle with anxiety, travelling with friends or family members can provide emotional support and help to reduce stress.
If, while travelling, your anxiety becomes severe, consider seeking professional help from a doctor or therapist. If you’re somewhere where access to support is difficult, consider booking an online doctor’s appointment with Telus Health or a virtual therapy session on BetterHelp.
Remember that when you’re anxious, you can’t trust your thoughts and it’s not a good time to make big decisions. Be gentle with yourself and remember that even if you’re anxious during your entire trip, it’s not what you’ll remember when you get home. Anxiety is tough, but you are tougher!
If you’re looking for a supportive, nourishing travel experience, join the first Raw Beauty Self Care Retreat – happening this September in Crete, Greece. Get details here and don’t forget to save your spot!
xo – Erin