I do not personally suffer from anxiety and panic attacks when travelling but I know many people do. Hundreds of thousands of people have to overcome their fear and suffer through stress just to get to work and many have to miss out on destination they wish to visit. Whenever I am travelling I try to remind myself that many people on this bus or flight are going through hell just to get somewhere and I try to be understanding.
But travelling can get stressful for people like me who do not suffer from a condition. Especially flying can be very hectic and make you feel anxious. I don’t know what about you, but I am always scared I forgot something, my luggage will be oversized, I will end up at the wrong gate – and there’s always delays. And as understanding as I am trying to be, I always find myself being annoyed. I turn into Grinch and I am especially allergic to seemingly parentless children running around. And being this negative actually feeds into my stress.
As I am trying to listen to my body and mind better and live happier and healthier life, one of my goals is to limit the stress and anxiety I feel when I travel. Not only because I live in London and often travel back home but simply because I love travelling and want to explore the world without committing triple homicide in the check-in area.
1| Plan and prepare
Okay, this is my way to mitigating stress in most areas of my life – obsessive organiser over here! I am learning to not go crazy when planning things with less organised people but when something is up to me, I plan.
Even if you don’t mind bit of a mess, being prepared and organised can really help lower the stress levels when travelling and it is worth taking time to make sure you are ready for your journey. This is true for small trips and big ones – knowing where your oyster is and that it is topped up to avoid jamming the barriers during the commute or ensuring you have your passport and boarding pass.
Being organised for your commute or travelling is also a great excuse to buy some lovely accessories which will help you stay organised.
Photo by Anete Lūsiņa on Unsplash
2| Figure out your route and an alternative
As I mentioned, I generally don’t suffer from anxiety attacks when travelling with the exception of last year when I was yelled at by a taxi driver because I didn’t have enough cash on and he didn’t want to let me go to a cashpoint in the airport. This episode was an exception to what I want to advice you here on because I actually did check my journey numerous times but UK train system just failed me this time.
I normally reach my zen when and switch to vacation mode as soon as I know I am on the right train, on time, heading in the right direction. I also double check how long my journey will take and always count in an extra time. I think this is important especially if you are in a foreign country. Londoners know their way to the four (sorry Southend) London airports by heart and can anticipate the delays and changes in the schedules and I assume that’s the same for your own town/country but I personally don’t feel this confident in different cities.
3| Stay hydrated
Of all the fad diets and wellness recommendations that we are bombarded by daily, one you can count on is the positive effects of drinking enough water. We are about 60% water so a few drops more won’t hurt you. Actually, it can help your body and mind a lot whether you have a stomach ache, headache or can’t breathe.
Staying hydrated also helps your body and brain to function normally and be able to handle stressful situations like a delayed arrival at the airport better. We are so accustomed to AC, polluted air and circulating ‘used’ air indoors that we sometimes fail notice the effect this environment has on us. Drinking water wakes up your mind and helps fight the numbing effects of overused air typical for overcrowded means of public transport.
I recommend getting a reusable water bottle. There are hundreds of types, cute ones, branded ones or more tekkie ones too. More places (including airports) now provide water points where you can refill your bottle too, so don’t worry about the security check liquid limit if you are flying.
Photo by Nicole Geri on Unsplash
4| Read a book or listen to a podcast
Simply distract yourself and your stressed brain. Personally, reading works better for me because I tend to focus more intensively on something I am reading than listening to, but this is down to you and your attention.
However, I also found out that what stresses me the most about airport halls or busy trains is the noise. It makes me feel really restless and annoyed to the point when I just want to get up and shout Shut up. When I am feeling this particular, audio annoyance coming, putting earplugs in and listening to something works better. I also listen to podcasts on my actual flight to drown out the noise of the air plane.
5| Talk to someone
You have two options here and I am big fan of both. You can either face time, call or just send a text to your family, friends or a partner to distract yourself, or you can talk to a fellow traveller. I know this is not an option for some people as talking to strangers isn’t for everyone but I like to meet new people and enjoy small talk. I met one of my friends like this as we shared a flight as well as bottle of wine.
Having a conversation requires attention and redirects your brain to something else than the stressful surroundings. I believe it is better option than trying to distract yourself by work too, as this could add another level of stress rather than help you relax.
Send me on my way
I think we have to accept that travelling does come with stress. Some people suffer more than others but I believe these tips can help you relieve at least some of the tension you might be experiencing. Remember to plan your journey, be careful about all timings and drink plenty of water. If everything fails, resort to retail therapy in duty free shops.
How do you handle travelling? Do you suffer from anxiety? Do you have any helpful tips on how to handle the stress that comes with travelling? Remember that sharing is caring!