I love to travel. It’s one of the experiences I enjoy the most. However, since my anxiety came back, and I got to admit it’s getting better, I have noticed that now when I travel I have a heavy extra baggage to carry on with me.
A lot of things are important when you travel: the place, the circumstances, the activities, the company… One of the reasons I don’t commit to a 9 to 5 work and enjoy the freelance lifestyle is that I not only get to do what I love in my own schedule but also, from any place around the globe. However, a few months ago, my anxiety monster decided to travel along with me, and certainly changed this a bit.
It all started last year in a long flight from Vienna. After a few weeks of visiting wonderful places and enjoying one of the best vacations that I ever had, there in mid-flight I fainted. When I came back to the U.S. I did all the physical tests possible to make sure there was nothing wrong with me. And fortunately it wasn’t. They said maybe it was just fatigue combined with anxiety. From than moment there he was, my little monster ready to go along, wherever I decided to travel, lurking, waiting for the perfect opportunity to attack, ruining my plans and shitting on one of the things that I love the most. Flying became a torture for me. Crowded places that I didn’t mind before became a trap. The normal exhaustion after a day of walking was the perfect candy for my monster. However, I wasn’t ready to give this up, because anxiety had already taken a lot of stuff away from me, and traveling was something I wouldn’t let him have.
Then an opportunity presented itself, and I took it as a sign and a perfect setting to kick the monster’s butt. While talking to one of my best friends we were discussing how as moms we are always under pressure, and we forget to care about ourselves. We talked about our need to go away and started to plan a trip. We had that idea in our heads for a while, but weddings, pregnancies, babies, lactating periods, toddlers to run after, and extremely busy schedules where always on the way. Then another friend joined our venture and we got another mom to come along. It was perfect. We all needed the time away, and I couldn’t be happier. It was as if the gods finally had agreed to concede us the favor after years of planning such getaway.
We chose New York because we wanted to do something different than sipping margaritas on a beach, considering I live on the beach. Also, I was the only one in the group that had never been to New York. So I packed my bags and had one of the best trips ever. Of course, the monster appeared sometimes, but I didn’t let him ruin the moment. I had anxiety attacks during my trip, and a few panicking moments, but I did not hide on a shell. Hiding feeds the anxiety more than even having to experience it. Avoiding an activity is letting the monster grow bigger and stronger. Instead, you can choose to travel with the extra baggage and learn how to carry it so it won’t drag you down. And I did and from now on I will have my momspringbreak every year!
If you suffer from anxiety and want to travel but you are scared, this is my advise:
Don’t hide your anxiety.
Let the people you are traveling with know about your situation and your fears. You will be surprised to find out how the people that care for you wont let you surrender to it. They will encourage you to try things and make you feel safe.
Try not focus on getting rid of your anxiety during your trip.
Instead, learn techniques to control it. Breathing, meditating, singing, or all of it! The anxiety might not go away immediately but those things help with getting better one step at a time.
Face your fears.
This is kind of cliché I know, but there is no better way to show yourself that you can deal with this. Tell yourself ‘I have to try.’ You might be missing amazing experiences just by avoiding a situation that you think will trigger your anxiety. And maybe it will trigger it, but trust me you will feel incredibly accomplished and there is a big deal of learning when you jump into your fear and realize that you can do it and that you are fine after all.
Learn from your type of anxiety.
Anxiety is different for everyone. If you know alcohol enhances it, control your alcohol intake. If you know that having water or a certain type of snack on hand will help you, have it with you. If your doctor has prescribed you an emergency pill for flying, take it. You have to know what comforts you but don’t confuse it with the things that comfort or feed your anxiety.
If anxiety comes, let it be.
You have been there before and you know it won’t go away just by wishing for it. So if it happens let it happen. Don’t feel embarrassed, or weak, or less because you suffer from this. Those anxiety moments will happen and they will pass. And you will go on with your life and the rest of the world too.
Am I saying that I am cured from anxiety? No. The monster definitely tries to get in between the fun. But as I promised myself once I started this series, I will learn to be his friend. I will learn to travel with him and every time it will be better until there will be a moment that his presence won’t bother me anymore. And I got to say, I am going in the right direction.