If, like me, you’re a huge fan of travelling but suffer from anxiety (or just travel anxiety), travelling and seeing the world can seem problematic. Ok you’re somewhat coping on a daily basis at home, but how do you do this when in a new environment? Or better yet, on a plane? The idea of travelling itself doesn’t phase me (nor do I have a fear of flying) but being prone to panic attacks, getting on public transport and being in new situations can often seem very difficult, or even impossible.
I’ve been lucky to travel quite a bit within my short lifetime (although, I would by no means call myself a seasoned traveler), and while it’s been difficult at times – I’ve done it. I’ve also managed to develop coping strategies along the way and thought I’d share them for anybody who might need them. It’s worth pointing out however, that I’m not a qualified medical professional and these tips might not work for everyone and should not be used as replacement for professional medical advice.
Anxiety reducing music – Marconi Union
1. Something I discovered last year and WISHED I knew about years before was a song called ‘Weightless Part 1’ by a band called Marconi Union. Before you sigh and wonder how the hec a song would be even remotely helpful in the case of a panic attack; hear this. This song was developed by the band alongside sound therapists who specialize in music therapy to alleviate symptoms of anxiety. It’s been scientifically proven to reduce the effects of anxiety by 65%. That’s a damn lot for an 8 minute song. The song works by using beats that naturally slow down your heart rate over time and by the end of the song, has you breathing totally normally. I’ve found this to be incredibly helpful – particularly on planes, you can just shut your eyes, press play and feel significantly better in under 10 minutes. SPOTIFY LINK
The importance of sleep
2. Speaking of ‘shutting your eyes’, one thing that is so important is SLEEP. I mean on the plane, before the plane, whenever. One good thing about Weightless is that it literally will send you to sleep and ain’t nothing better than falling asleep on a plane. If you do struggle sleeping, using a travel pillow might help. For a big chunk of my life, I begrudged travel pillows and thought they were really annoying. I guess when you get older any chance to nap is like winning the lottery. J-Pillow kindly sent me one of their travel pillows and it won me over because it has a chin rest. Travel pillows are notoriously uncomfortable but the J shape of this one makes it supportive and so cosy. If you’re travelling on a train or in the car, you could always use one then too (so long as you’re not driving)! In all seriousness, sleep is really overlooked and lack of it is notorious for making anxiety worse. When travelling, jetlag can completely throw your body out of routine and actually cause anxiety in itself, so get some kip and thank yourself later.
Ashwagandha – A Herbal Remedy
3. If you’re a fan of using natural remedies to target problems, this one is probably for you. Ashwagandha supplements are totally natural and contain Ashwagandha (shock), a natural herb that ‘nourishes the mind and relaxes the nervous system’. I discovered Ashwagandha last year and BOY do I wish I had known about it sooner. It definitely works wonders, so much so that I use it in day to day life as well as when travelling. Pukka Herbs do a really great one. Taking a capsule in the morning and in the evening during stressful periods or when travelling has proved really successful for me personally. A lot of people overlook herbal remedies and jump straight to medication (and that’s absolutely FINE) but if natural is more your thing, this could be an option to explore. I’ve tried both medication and herbal remedies and found herbal remedies to be overly more pleasant – albeit more expensive.
4. If you suffer particularly badly from specific symptoms of anxiety while travelling i.e. nausea/feeling sick (this is a massive one for me) travel bands might help. Sea Bands sell acupressure wristbands that you simply wear and they put pressure on a pressure point which helps reduce/eliminate symptoms of nausea. I know people often use these for travel sickness and morning sickness but I’ve found them really good for taking the edge off of anxiety symptoms too.
The dreaded word – Mindfulness
If you suffer from anxiety, you’ll either love or hate this word – usually the latter. It can be frustrating and demotivating when the word ‘mindfulness’ gets shoved down your throat all the time and this happens often with anxiety but, it’s important to recognise mindfulness is an important aspect of coping/dealing with anxiety. No, someone screaming ‘DO YOUR BREATHING TECHNIQUES’ at you is not helpful, but in conjunction with other methods it’s super important. Try to remember travelling is meant to be a positive experience, not one that is meant to cause gut-wrenching fear. I’ve found myself guilty on planes of thinking about how awful I feel trapped in a metal flying object and not the fact I’ll be on a relaxing beach in a couple of hours. Mindfulness can be whatever you want it to be, be it breathing properly, meditating, reading positive affirmations or even your own relaxation techniques. ‘Breaking Mad‘, a book by Anna Williamson has some excellent mindfulness exercises in it – something you could easily pack to take on a plane.
These are just some of the things I’ve found useful through experimentation. By all means, these might not work for everyone but they’re things I wish I had known when I first started struggling with anxiety and thought they might help someone else.
As ever, It’s not easy to talk about your own issues with mental health on the internet and sometimes I question why I do it. BUT (there’s always a but), I’ve been receiving some lovely messages recently from people who read my blog, saying reading my posts has really helped them in feeling like they are not alone. That makes it so worth it. Thank you for reading my blog and all your continued support!
* This post contains a PR sample from J-Pillow. As always, views remain my own. This post is not sponsored.