Why I Hate To Love Travelling With Anxiety
It’s the night before that amazing holiday you’ve been so desperately waiting for. You’re all packed, chilling maybe with a cheeky tipple to get in the mood before that nights sleep you absolutely must get as you’re travelling the next day and ‘don’t want to be tired’ - I absolutely hate hearing that!
It’s all easier said than done because if you’re like me and have suffered with the crippling feelings of anxiety triggered by travelling then you’ll know the night before anything but chilled…
It’s unlike me to share something personal, but I’m doing it. I’m writing this post because I have a long-haul holiday + special occasion coming up - I’m turning 30 whilst I’m away and it’s all happening at once.
I wanted to start off this new section of my blog by sharing what it’s been like for me to travel especially thinking about the past few years and where I’ve been, especially the long haul badboys. I’ve realised it’s nothing to be shy about or ashamed of, it’s so common and completely natural to feel nervous (putting it lightly) - and I want to enjoy the holiday process, not dread it - it’s what life is all about after all.
So, this year has been the start to a long old process of dissolving and dismantling my historic anxiety triggers (which I’ll be writing more about very soon) - with travelling being the biggest contributor - and I’ve been taking positive steps toward overcoming the whole bloody thing and I am so happy something switched inside me where I finally decided to do something about it.
Going away can be stressful enough but I make it 100x harder by adding full blown anxiety panic attacks in there and I’ve very much had enough. It's gotten more severe in the later part of my twenties mainly because regardless I still keep choosing to travel further out of my snug little comfort zone and I’ve been letting my past stresses get the better of me.
It may sound silly, perhaps even trivial to worry about such a thing, but when you’re laying in bed tossing and turning and not getting any sleep at all, your heart is banging out your chest, your tearful, emotional and generally getting yourself in to such a state you end up with your head in the toilet on the morning before you go - it’s not exactly the ideal pre-holiday vibe you’d hope for is it? Well, that’s exactly what I am presented with when I am trying to get myself ready to leave for the airport and those little jittery ‘nervous butterflies’ turn into what feels like hundreds of those huge, flappy, flying dinosaurs soaring around in my body.
I am always absolutely fine when I finally reach the destination, but the build up and anticipation leading up to getting there is the worst part for me. It brings on feelings of complete and utter fear and, if I’m honest, I can start debating whether or not to actually go through with it because I don’t have to, I am doing this by choice. I panic about something happening at home if I’m not there, I worry about my dog, my house, being ill when I’m in another country - I could keep going.
Absolute friggin’ madness.
It’s those darn long haul flights that kick things off - confined to that metal tube for hours on end brings on such intense feelings of anxiety I can’t even describe. I’ve even tried to do connecting flights to try and see if that made things any better, reducing the time I am confined to one flight - it didn’t - it just gave me a whole list of other things to worry about and it actually makes your overall journey time even longer!
At this point of this post I know what you’re thinking - it’s a holiday so what on earth could possibly be causing me to feel this way and trust me, I ask myself the same question every time. The ‘flying is the safest form of travel’ comments that family members reel off in an attempt to make you feel better (usually with statistics) do very little to dispel any feelings of panic or worry and only end up going in one ear and out the other. When those irrational thoughts and feelings cloud your thinking it’s a pretty scary scenario because you can’t think straight or see logic and it’s difficult to explain it to someone who has never suffered with anything like that.
Despite it all, my love for holidays remains the same and I simply cannot let it hold me back. There are loads of destinations on my bucket list and I’m doing everything I can to remove this fear from my life as I just cannot accept that my anxiety will stop me getting to them.
I’ve started down many different routes to help me understand what causes my anxiety to flare up and take over my mind and body and I’ll be keeping you all updated with what I’m learning along the way. Knowledge is power!
It really is, quite literally all in the mind!
I remember reading somewhere that the satisfaction of a situation is how your mind perceives it. So, in reality there is no good or bad situation, only how your mind chooses to perceive it. So, if I choose to think negatively about something then I’ll probably have a tough time. If I choose to think positively, things will (fingers crossed) run smoothly and I’ll be able to think clearly going forward and see a situation for what it actually is.
I think I put too much pressure on myself to feel ‘normal’ (as if that’s really a thing) and it just causes the spiralling thoughts and feelings to spiral even faster and further out of my control. If I can’t calm and slow my mind, how can I expect my body to follow?
I would also like to reiterate something to any fellow anxious flyers or travellers: if you’re reading this and you can relate, or perhaps you’re prone to similar anxious thoughts like mine and are familiar with how terrifying it is when this feeling takes over your entire nervous system, so badly you can’t eat or sleep - then I really would suggest literally forgetting about it. Don’t try to force it because this just makes things worse and you build it up into a much bigger problem when it doesn’t need to be. You will get through it and the feeling will pass and you’re way more capable than you think, you just need to believe it.
Imagine travelling like this:
an opportunity to learn and gain a life experience every time you do it.
How often have you just wanted to sit and read a book or watch a film for hours on end (especially if it’s a goodun) and enjoy that moment?
If you’re worried about flying, think about where else can you sit and do nothing without anybody questioning it or judging you?
Or how many times have you wondered how nice it would be to have a break from mindless scrolling online? Flying is also a great opportunity to do most of those things combined.
Keep your eyes peeled because there is more to come on this…much more! This is both the end and start of something - it’s a wonderful, freeing feeling already.