Healthy LifestylesMental Health

Summer is in full swing, which means many people are planning vacations. However, if you struggle with an anxiety disorder, it can be very difficult to enjoy this time of year. This is especially true if travel anxiety keeps you from making the most of your summer plans.

There are many reasons why traveling can be stressful, from catching flights to navigating a new city. Vacation anxiety can strike no matter where you go. Luckily, there are ways to handle these anxious feelings.

Managing travel anxiety is one of the best ways to guarantee a fun-filled vacation. Here are 4 tips to having a stress-free summer. 

#1: Practice the art of relaxing 

To do most things well, you need to practice. This is also true for relaxing, especially if it doesn’t come easy to you.  Practicing relaxing can help ease feelings of anxiety before traveling. It also gives you tools to use while you are on the road and feeling out of control. There are many natural ways to relieve stress, such as:

  • Meditation
  • Progressive muscle relaxation
  • Listening to music 
  • Journaling 
  • Aromatherapy

Knowing the ways that best reduce stress in you is a great way to combat travel anxiety. Be mindful of your body and relax your muscles when you are feeling anxious. Have a journaling routine to write down nervous thoughts, or make a playlist with music that makes you feel good. Whatever ways work best in reducing your anxiety are the things you should practice before leaving on vacation. 

#2: Plan extra time into your schedule

A lot of anxiety while traveling occurs when you feel like you are running against a clock. “Do I have enough time to catch my flight?” “Is there time to do x,y, and z before the next activity?” These are all questions you may panic over if you experience travel anxiety. A good way to combat these worries is to plan extra time into your schedule. 

You may feel tempted to pack your vacation with fun activities that leave little wiggle room. If you experience vacation anxiety, it might be wiser to space out your plans and give yourself some room to breathe. This can also be applied to travel situations, like departure and arrival times when flying or driving. Being early is better than being late. With your extra time, you can practice your relaxation techniques to calm yourself before your next adventure. 

#3: Have things to look forward to 

Summer is the season of fun, and you probably have some exciting plans for your vacation. However, it is easy to lose sight of these things when you feel anxious. Visualization is a powerful tool that many mental health professionals recommend when dealing with anxious thoughts. This tool is a great way to combat travel anxiety because you will have scenes and situations to look forward to already scheduled during your vacation. 

You may experience anxiety while flying. When this happens, think about an activity you’ve planned. Will you be having a beach day? Put yourself on that beach. Imagine the smell of the salty air. Hear the sounds of the waves. Picture the warmth of the sun on your skin. Slow your breathing and relax your body. This technique can be done anywhere, from a plane to a car, to your hotel room. 

#4: Control what you can by planning ahead

Many people experience travel anxiety when they feel out of control. Some people find that planning for certain scenarios eases the anxiety they feel about traveling. Having a plan if things go wrong may help you feel more in control about uncertain situations you may face on vacation. 

It is important to be realistic about the things you can plan for. You won’t be able to plan for everything, but certain situations may come up that will benefit from some forethought. For example, you may plan for:

  • An unexpected illness or injury. Look up local doctors and hospitals before you travel. Look into purchasing travel insurance that covers situations like this.
  • Getting lost. Make sure you have access to a map of the area. Having a GPS app on your phone may be the best option. If you are traveling internationally, learn some words and phrases so you can ask for directions.
  • Losing your money. Many hotel rooms and AirBNB’s have safes where you can store important items. Lock some money and your important documents in the safe to avoid losing everything if the situation comes up.

When to seek help

It is important to consult with your doctor if you are experiencing extreme anxiety. They may recommend prescription medications or treatments such as TMS. TMS stands for transcranial magnetic stimulation, a scientifically backed, FDA-approved procedure for patients who suffer from conditions like chronic stress, depression, and anxiety.

TMS Center at Lehigh Valley wants to help you live your life to the fullest. Contact us today to learn more about our treatments and meet with our dedicated team of professionals. Don’t let travel anxiety steal your summer away. Your summer belongs to you.