When I first was diagnosed with GAD (what like 3 years ago) everything felt hopeless and the idea of living a “normal” life felt impossible. Flash forward to today, and I feel so much more in control of my anxiety, and I actually say yes to things, AND I feel pretty confident in my traveling ability. Travel was a pretty big issue for my anxiety, and I said no to so many things. Now I’ve learnt a lot over the past few years, so I thought I would share what works for me and hopefully someone who is feeling hopeless will find it useful. Remember you are not alone.
1 – Knowledge is power. A big change in the way I viewed my anxiety came from learning about it. I throughly recommend the book titled “The Age of Anxiety” it’s very fact heavy but really eye opening. It’s one I like to dip in and out of, as a reminder that I’m not going crazy and anxiety is a legit thing thats been on the planet before me. I’ve recommended this book to multiple people either dealing with anxiety or have someone close to them with anxiety, and it’s so helpful.
2 – Preparation is key. There are some that say the world belongs to those who prepare, and those people got it right. When I pack in advance, my goodness I notice a difference. If I’m going away for the weekend I will often pack a week or two in advance, to make sure everything has been washed. There is nothing worse than wanting to wear something specific and you can’t find it, or it’s got a stain on it, thats the worst.
3 – Lists. As I’m packing I make a list of everything going in. So when anxiety levels are high on the day of travel, I can remind myself exactly whats in my bag. Sidenote – one of the most common overlooked symptoms of anxiety is memory loss and low focus levels. Which I find is very true in my case. I have packed my bag before and five minutes later completely forgot whats in there and freaked out, and then had to unpack the whole case. Lists are great for this.
4 – What are your no.1 priority top essential items? You know that feeling you get when you are leaving through the door and this huge wave hits you in your gut of “fuck I’ve forgotten something” but you can’t remember what it is? Man I get that E V E R Y time I leave the house especially when I’m going somewhere far. If Im still thinking this at the airport or the train station, then anxiety is coming for me. To combat this, as I walk out the door I have my phone and my purse in my hand (my priority essentials) and repeat this mantra “this is all the matters”. I remember myself that I can always buy more socks, or pants, or make-up, or whatever, and these are the upmost important things for me when I travel.
5 – Meditation on the go – I always have some sort of super long guided medition on my phone, this is especially perfect if you if your scared of flying, just as I feel my breathing start to go a bit off, I stick this on my headphones it really helps stay me stay in control. Meditation is one of those things that has taken me a bunch of practice to learn, but I feel really powerful that I can take myself away to my happy place whenever I like.
6 – Natural remedies – Everywhere I go I take my Bach Rescue Remedy, it’s a tiny little bottle so perfect for traveling. If your new to natural remedies, I recommend popping into a natural health shop like Holland and Barret or even your local Boots, they have so much knowledge on these products and can be really helpful. I would also recommend Kalms.
7 – Last top tip from me is remember to be kind to yourself. I can plan to do a gazillion things before I walk out the door but I cannot completely control weather or not I’m going to have a panic attack. Learning to accept that, move on and move past that, means that I can still do what I want, even if I have to get off at every tube stop on the way to have a panic attack (true story). I try to remind myself that having a panic attack isn’t failure, and treat myself with kindness and compassion.