“To travel is to take a journey into yourself” Danny Kaye, never a truer word spoken for those who suffer with anxiety but still find that never ending thirst for travel. One wouldn’t be blamed for thinking that the 2 may not match well together, travel and anxiety but with a little deeper investigation into what anxiety is and what it means to travel, you begin to see the deep and meaningful way travel soothes the soul.
So let us first review what Anxiety is according to the NHS, “Anxiety is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe. Everyone has feelings of anxiety at some point in their life –feeling anxious can be perfectly normal. However, some people find it hard to control their worries. Their feelings of anxiety are more constant and can often affect their daily lives.” Sounds to familiar for some, that feeling that can take over your entire body, consume you, mind, body and soul, making you feel at the mercy of your own self destructive feelings of nervousness. Sometimes it can feel like there is no light. However, all adults that suffer with this real and all consuming affiliation, learn to deal with it in ways. It is very much a personal journey towards feeling at ease with the everyday; some meditate and practice yoga, some find talking to a therapist is the best method and others find strict routine brings structure into their lives, not to mention fitness regimes, classes and support groups.
How can aspects of anxiety be counteracted by travel and what it means to travel. Another profound quote comes to mind when examining travel as a remedy for anxiety, “A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it” George A. Moore; home can be anywhere, some suggest home is where the heart is, home can be one’s mind or being with the one you love the most, either way, travel allows you to search what you may be missing in your life, giving you the chance to truly understand how you have the power over your own anxiety and issues. Now, we are not saying that this goes for all mental illness, mental illness, as real and as visceral as any physical illness, many of which need constant medical care and professional attention. However for anxiety and stress, one can look to more homeopathic alternatives (once you have consulted your GP and or therapist). Travel pushes your comfort zone, allows you to be in nature, a more minimalist living, see incredible- ore inspiring sights, meet new people from different backgrounds, plus stray away from the hustle and bustle, the daily grind. Some of these concepts could be already filling you with a sense of unrest but they can have quite the opposite effect when you are in the situation. Encouraging you to push yourself and discover your potential, which- take it from us- it enormous.
How can you control your anxiety when you’re traveling then? Well, with a few, simple principles, you can live well and manage your anxiety, learning how to deal with the panic attacks, phobias and all the other manifestations! The aim is to cover all bases, ensuring you are fully prepared for ANY situation, allows your mind some well deserved rest.
Here are just a few managing methods:
- Research and planning. Take the time well in advance of your adventure to plan every aspect of your trip. Research can be half the fun, looking through books, surfing the web, checking pinterest can ignite that spark of excitement in all the wonderful places you can visit. Cover all basis, begin to keep track of what you learn online in a file on your computer, name it something like “Travel Ideas”, “Travel Research”, “Adventure Plans”, something that every time you even look at the file, will remind you there is an escape where you can head for the horizon. Don’t leave ANYTHING to the last minute. Which brings us seamlessly onto the next point.
- No panic or impulsive behaviors! This is in every possible way, don’t leave reasearch and planning to the last minute, don’t leave booking and saving to the last minute and don’t leave packing to the last minute. You want to get all your ducks in a nice, organised, colour coded and booked up little row before you leave your front door. If something isn’t fully organised, you can delay it for example if you don’t have the money to pay for a certain ticket, wait a little while. Then when everything is booked and paid for, sit down and schedule the few days in the run up to departure.
- Start a diary and nurture all the memories. Keeping a diary is a therapeutic act that lets you document everything, the good the bad and all the niggles in between. Write down how you’re feeling and how you can remedy it, if you’re feeling stressed about money you can use the note pages to do a little financial planning, if you are feeling lonely, talk to your diary, as silly as it may sound now, your diary is there to listen and talking about how you feel is genuinely nourishing.
- Take time every few days to call home. Making contact with friends and family at home is really important! You should touch base and reconnect, you may be away but you can still be close. Friends and family from home keep you humble, grounded and centered.
- LET YOURSELF GO. It feels that sometimes you keep so many strings, tightly wound around your emotions and everyday behaviors that you never let go. Take 3 big breaths, inhale through the nose, out through the mouth and on the last exhale, let ALL the air from your lungs empty; then shake it off, drop those shoulder and allow your heart to open to all the possibilities of travel, the ups, the downs and the sheer thrill!
When people say the only barrier to true happiness is yourself, it’s hard to believe. Anxiety is a horrible mental state of constant doubt and self hatred BUT you can be your own worst enemy AND your own best friend. YOU have the power to change yourself for the better. You can change your surroundings and change the daily grind routine. The world with all it’s issues and the current rate of deprivation is a dark reality however, the world is also full of grace, interest and wander. Travel will allow you to meet people who will complete you, find what’s missing; the landscape will help you understand how great and awesome the natural beauty of the world, Alaska or Norway for example. You will see the limit of human ingenuity in cities like Venice, Cairo or Rome. You will truly understand how travel is the cure to all, travel is to live, to live is to travel.