Travel anxiety, especially during the holiday season, is not an uncommon phenomenon. The Covid pandemic, which resulted in disruption of life as we knew it, has further played a role in heightening travel anxiety affecting millions of people worldwide.
The holiday season especially draws large numbers of people who travel for a host of reasons, but primarily for spending time with close friends and family. Or travel to a location where they can relax and break away from their hectic schedules. However, anyone dealing with this kind of anxiety may experience severe limitations in enjoying any aspect of travelling.
Travel anxiety is often linked with specific triggers, including the fear of visiting a new, unfamiliar place and the stress of making travel plans. If you or a loved one is familiar with these stressors, here are some helpful suggestions that can help reduce travel anxiety and enjoy the holiday season.
1) Make Travel Part of the Adventure, Not a Chore! Give Yourself Extra Time by Being Early and Organized.
The holidays can be exciting and a source of joy. But if you struggle with travel anxiety, then there is a way you can learn to make the experience feel more like an opportunity for growth as opposed to a chore. Evidence suggests that when we operate from a less rushed state and plan ahead, especially in travel and holidays, a sense of assuredness is experienced, leading to a less anxious state. Travelling for the holidays can be stressful because there's so much planning involved—from finding last-minute flights to booking hotels in advance (and then figuring out what kind of accommodations your family or friends want). But suppose you plan to take care of these things early on. You may find yourself more in control of the situation. So, perhaps this holiday season, when it's time to travel, you could give yourself extra time by being early and organized.
2) Pack an Item That Brings You Joy and Is a Source of Positive Distraction.
If you're prone to anxiety, getting an item that brings you joy and is a source of positive distraction can be helpful—for example, a favourite book, journal or sketchbook. You can also get your favourite stuffed animal! In fact, packing some comfort food that makes your stomach happy is also a great way of distracting yourself from your stressors. Perhaps you could pack something warm if the weather is cold—a favourite scarf, pyjamas or slippers. Any of the above are great options that can be helpful as these are familiar and positive reminders that can help in easing a stressful moment.
3) Get Creative with Coping Mechanisms! Try Calming Breathing Techniques.
Another helpful technique in dealing with travel anxiety can be trying breathing exercises. You could try counting your breaths. It can be done anywhere, including in the car or airplane. You could perhaps try taking several deep breaths and counting each out loud until you reach ten (or however many). This simple exercise may be beneficial in calming your racing mind and reducing stress levels by shifting your focus away from the outside world—which often fuels fears. So trying positive coping mechanisms can help regulate the wandering mind.
4) Seeking Therapy
Suppose you find that you struggle to manage independently despite your best efforts. If the quality of your life is not improving, perhaps speaking to a trained therapist could help. There is no doubt that therapy can offer a safe place to express your feelings and help you learn to manage your anxiety through positive coping mechanisms.
In therapy, you can explore the reasons behind your anxiety by working with an expert trained in this area. Therapy for anxiety can be beneficial in helping you understand why you feel anxious in certain situations. What's more, with the help of your therapist, you will be able to navigate those fears and learn practical skills to manage your stressors better.
Therapy has proven benefits for many struggling with travel anxiety
It helps them gain insight into their mindset regarding what causes them stress before travelling.
It teaches them how best to deal with their fears when faced with new challenges during trips.
It gives them tools for dealing effectively with future travel experiences.
Travelling can be stressful. Travel during the holiday season, especially, is linked to anxiety and stress, so much so that it takes away the joy and merry-making from the festivities. But you are not alone. It might appear as if there is no solution, but let us assure you that there is help for your anxiety. You do not have to live in silence. With the help of a trained psychologist, you, too, can manage your anxiety better. And fully experience the joy and happiness of holiday travel!
If you're looking for help in managing travel anxiety, working with a psychologist might be helpful for you. At Ward & Associates Psychological Services, we offer counselling in Sherwood Park. We specialize in individual counselling for adults, teens, and children and couples counselling and trauma counselling for first responders. We also offer online therapy for clients residing in Alberta. Contact us to learn more about our services or to book an appointment.