Others go on city trips to Paris, fly to New York or disappear for several weeks to Thailand – all of this is always easy to follow in public on countless status updates and photos. You could get jealous and book yourself a holiday. If you didn’t have this one little thing. This problem that feels like a backpack to some, like a shackle to others and like a turtleneck sweater to others. This inner monster, which is an elevator or a wobble in the plane or an overcrowded room with people or invisible bacteria on the door handle. Fear.
Anxiety and anxiety disorders are a perfidious disease
In search of security and security, those affected draw the walls around them ever tighter. Traveling? Often the thought of this is reason enough for rubber knees and sweaty hands. The good thing is that you can also travel with panic attacks, unpredictable states of anxiety or various restrictive phobias. It needs a little more preparation and a firm will, but it works. These tips help:
#1 Taking the fear with you instead of running away from it
The bad news is, wherever you go, your fear is always in the suitcase. The good news is that it doesn’t have to stop you from exploring the world. Your fear is, at least for now, a part of your life. Not the most beautiful, but he is there. It helps to mentally adjust to the fact that you are not suddenly a different person at your destination, but have to deal with the same difficulties there as usual. And that’s okay. Because a lot of new and beautiful things are happening on the side and outside, which travel home again as a positive memory.
#2 Make small jumps
Depending on how limited you are, the destination should be chosen so that it remains realistic and manageable, but still far enough outside the comfort zone to provide new experiences. You decide which challenge you want to tackle and which you don’t. You can also have a good time in places where you’ve only been by bus for half an hour. If, on the other hand, you feel ready to show your teeth to your train or flight fear, make it as easy as possible: short distances, no transfers, seat reservations and so on. It may be difficult not to overtax yourself with all the possibilities, but if you listen to your intuition, you will find the right route, literally.
#3 Prepare well
If you have to deal with fears of all kinds, you may know this: In everyday life you need all kinds of utensils to feel halfway safe and calm and then there is the bag with emergency stuff for acute anxiety attacks or worst-case scenarios. Whether it’s certain medications, soundproof headphones or small notes full of mantras, take everything you need with you on your journey.
Even if it means more luggage or funny looks. These safety nets are nothing to be ashamed of. There’s nothing worse than being abroad and being annoyed that there’s no such thing as a certain type of apple-Johannisbe spritzer that you absolutely need to calm down in stressful situations – or whatever it is with you.
#4 Be selfish
A rather difficult task, because as a person with anxiety problems you often feel unpleasantly egocentric and involuntary in the center. But who should take care of you when travelling, if not you? If you don’t want to sleep in an 8-bed room, find a compromise with your fellow travellers and book something else if necessary.
No ten horses can get you up to the observation tower? Stay down and buy yourself an ice cream. Travelling is far too short to be stuck with such little things. Concentrate on things you feel like doing and where you feel good, instead of doing all kinds of things out of peer pressure where your gut holds up the stop sign.
#5 Have B plans in stock
To take good care of oneself when travelling also means to think up enough alternatives in case panic, fear and spontaneous “Oh God, I can’t do this” should occur in your daily schedule. That doesn’t mean you have to write a detailed list of B plans, but it’s good to have something in mind that you can focus on immediately when a plan fails. Because to spontaneously come up with something great in stressful situations usually works rather so well. But with thought-provoking ideas, you can simply go straight on to the next point.
#6 Forgive yourself
It happened: You had a total breakdown in the queue to the museum, at the airport or already two days before departure. That feels like shit. And yet it’s no reason to hate yourself for it. Rather see the breakdown as a signal that you should downshift a gear and check again where exactly the fear triggers are that you should deal with. Forgive yourself and be the best, most understanding and most patient travel companion you can imagine. Even if that means holding on to a water bottle for the next hour or staring at the ceiling of a hotel room. It passes – and then it goes on.
#7 Stay tuned
You are safely back from your trip and you may have had a few difficult moments, but you probably also saw, experienced, thought, eaten and felt quite a few beautiful things. Consciously take a minute to pat yourself on the back a little. And don’t just use the positive energy of the sense of achievement for a liberated attitude to life, but think about where you want to go next. Whether far away or not, travelling is not a competition. Routine helps well against fear and the more often you drive away, the safer you become – even in everyday life.
Even if the fear thoughts may never disappear completely, they will not dictate your life so strongly any more. If you have often enough defiantly painted “I can” over it with a red felt-tip pen.