For over a year, the COVID-19 pandemic impacted almost everyone’s way of life. Everything from social distancing to mask-wearing became normal. Now, the U.S. is starting to open up again.
Because of that, many people are itching to start traveling
. Some miss the feeling of going somewhere new. Others have to travel for work. But, whether you have to travel or want to, it doesn’t mean you won’t experience some anxiety.
There’s no denying that the world isn’t the same. The threat of the COVID-19 virus is still out there, and if you take a few minutes to watch the news, you’ll quickly see other issues around the globe can make you feel uneasy about traveling.
So, how can you address this anxiety? What can you do to work through those feelings of fear so you can actually enjoy traveling again? There are several ways to manage your anxiety symptoms before and during your travels that will help you get used to it again.
Getting to the Root of Your Anxiety
Anxiety is the most common mental health condition around the world. So, it should come as no surprise that everyone’s “triggers” are different. While anxiety can be manageable, it often requires getting to the root cause. Where does it stem from? What are your triggers? What can you do about it?
Maybe you never struggled with anxious thoughts before the pandemic. If that’s the case, your fears might be rooted in:
- Catching an illness
- Being in large crowds
- Passing the illness on to a loved one
- Societal unrest
If you want to travel but you’re too nervous about it, it can be worth it to talk to a mental health professional. Not only can they help you address these underlying triggers, but they can provide you with management skills you can use to combat the symptoms of anxiety no matter where you are. If you don’t want to speak with a professional, make sure you have a support system (family members, friends, or others dealing with the same worries) that you can turn to.
Dealing With a Double Dose of Nerves
Some people are struggling with travel anxiety because of pre-existing conditions. If you are already dealing with a mental health condition like depression
or anxiety, the thought of getting on a plane or being around others can make it worse.
You might also have a chronic illness to worry about on top of everything else. If it’s a hidden illness, it can make your feelings of fear and anxiety even worse, wondering how you might get help and support if you’re away from home. Certain chronic conditions can even be fueled by anxiety
. For example, if you have asthma, feeling overwhelmed with fear can trigger shortness of breath, which may send you into an asthma attack. That might increase the anxiety, causing a vicious cycle.
Whether you feel “doubled up” on anxiety because of a condition or you feel like leaving home comes with too many uncertainties, there are things you can do to make the process easier, including:
- Making a checklist of things you can control
- Starting small with your travels and easing into them
- Having a support person travel with you
- Talking with your doctor beforehand
- Having necessary medications or treatment resources on-hand
Anxiety tends to get fueled by the unknown. Unfortunately, there can be a lot of “unknown” factors when it comes to traveling. So, by focusing on the things you can control, especially if you have other conditions to think about, you’ll be able to maintain a calmer mindset.
Planning Ahead for Your Trip
Speaking of things you can control, one of the best ways to feel more empowered and less anxious is to plan ahead as much as possible. Covering every detail that could otherwise fuel your anxiety will help you feel more at ease while you’re away. That includes everything from who will take care of your home to how you’re going to handle leaving your pet.
If you have a dog or cat, you probably spent more time with them throughout the pandemic than ever. They may have even become a source of emotional support by reducing your stress levels
. Separation anxiety can be hard on both of you!
You can ease those emotions by leaving your pet with someone you trust, making sure they’re happy, and keeping some photos of them with you while you’re gone.
Whether it’s pets, plants, packing, plane tickets, or anything else that might typically make you worry, planning (and making lists!) will make the entire traveling experience easier for you.
You might find that your anxiety starts to ease the more you get used to traveling again. Taking that first step isn’t easy, especially after so much has changed. By addressing your anxiety instead of trying to ignore it and taking small steps back to “normalcy,” you can enjoy traveling again without letting it cripple your mental health.