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our tips for managing travel anxiety

Updated: Feb 7, 2023

summer is in full swing and at this time of year one word springs to! albeit a bit of a distance memory in the last 2 years the world of travel seems to be back in the swing of things and many of us love the idea of getting away. the expectation of most holidays is to relax, enjoy and spend time with yourself or your loved ones but for some of us the thought of being away from home can induce feelings of anxiety and panic, and can become a rather stressful idea. for some those feelings can prevent us from travelling altogether. it's true that leaving home (our comfort zone) can cause those feelings because it involves stepping outside of familiarity. the thoughts that crop up in our minds may also reflect this;

'what if i can't cope whilst i'm away?'

'what if i panic?'

'what if i become unwell during my trip?'

for others, the idea of resting or lounging around during their trip may feel uncomfortable, with worries about productivity and self worth making us feel on edge. if you are taking a holiday from a particularly stressful or high pressure job it may not feel natural to you to switch off from it. but what is going to be most helpful to us when we feel this way? would it be allowing anxious thoughts to take over and dictate your life? or is accepting the uncertainty and exposing ourselves to the fear a better and more realistic route? sure, it might mean you don't enjoy the first couple of days of your holiday as you adjust, but it's an approach that is the most effective in reassuring ourselves and our brains that we can be in these situations and remain safe and well.

anxiety around travel is something i can sympathise with from a personal point of view - having travelled to many different countries and experienced some pretty intense thoughts at times. it didn't happen all the time or consistently throughout my travels, but my own anxious thoughts tended to centre around security at the airport, the plane taking off and the prospect of natural disasters (imagine then experiencing an earthquake in new zealand...!). once barriers were broken by the physical act of doing these things despite the irrational thoughts and they had gone smoothly, then naturally i became calmer as my brain understood there was no need to kick the fight or flight response in. i also confided in my family and the person travelling with me who were able to offer rational responses to my worries. in the last few years as i've gotten to understand my anxiety better i've developed a better strategy for being away from home to help me get the best out of my trip and look after myself whilst i'm away. my top tips are below;

PLAN - make a plan for your trip so you have some kind of routine to work with. anxiety thrives when there is zero routine so put some small things into your trip that you can look forward to and offer you some structure. it's also a good idea to plan things around money, transport, and your safety if it's applicable to your trip. when i travelled outside the EU i always made a note of local emergency numbers and the embassy so it was on hand if we needed it (we never did but hey - eased my mind a bit!). there is no harm in being prepared and knowing you have taken some steps of preparation should help.

TOOLKIT - bring your toolkit with you! anything that helps you at home can most likely travel with you. bring herbal teas, an eye mask, some headphones for meditation, whatever you need to help you along the way. i never leave home without some herbal teas and the calm and sleepy head sprays from made by coopers. they come in the perfect travel size for being on the go and are part of my nightly routine at home which brings me some familiarity wherever i stay. these aromatherapy sprays are scented with soothing essential oils such as lavender, chamomile and frankincense known to promote relaxation. simply spritz them above your pillows or linen and take a deep breath.

Made By Coopers Aromatherapy room mist sprays

another lovely aromatherapy option suitable for travel are the mini candles created by nathalie bond. my top pick would be the unwind candle for its deeply relaxing scent of lavender and bergamot. in addition to products, don't forget the best tool you possess to soothe your nervous system - your breath! this year when i get on a plane for the first time in 3 years i will be doing my deep, mindful breathing with an extended exhalation to engage my parasympathetic nervous system before take off.

TALK - talk to someone about your worries and fears, no matter how irrational or silly you think they are. saying things out loud and discussing them with a supportive companion can help you to see things more rationally. 9 times out of 10 i laugh at the things i think up when i say them out loud to someone! this helps to separate thoughts and the actual reality of the situation. the beauty of technology these days is that you can easily stay in touch with whoever you feel comfortable to talk to about your fears whether that be your mum or a good friend. don't keep your thoughts bottled up.

remember that feeling worried or uneasy about being away from home is completely normal and a natural response - our brains are only trying to keep us safe at the end of the day. it's not the goal to prevent these feelings, but to accept them and work with them in the best way we can to show our sometimes irrational minds that we can do the things that we are fearful of and still be safe.

where are you heading off to this summer and how are you feeling about it? share with us in the comments below.

stay well,

sophie x

founder of the conscious collective

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