Only those who have dealt with anxiety — whether it affects you out of the blue or you've experienced it your entire life consistently — know how physically and mentally draining it can really be. It's completely awful, but know you're not alone.
Traveling can help anxiety by just facing your fears — whether it's navigating through an unfamiliar city or hanging out with locals. However, it can easily take over your mind and body if you let it, especially in a foreign destination, so it's important to create a plan and take control. Here are some calming tips on how to not let that overwhelming feeling of anxiety stop you from traveling the world, plus what to do if you experience it abroad.
Seems pretty simple, right? It's not as easy as it sounds when you're dealing with a mind that's constantly racing or a pounding heart. Using deep-breathing exercises does wonders and is often helpful to decrease anxiety. Take a deep breath in, count to three, and then exhale slowly. Take a step away from whatever you're doing to recognize your breath and reset your mind.
2. Write It Out
Write out your feelings like a grocery list. Many people feel their anxiety comes from "out of the blue," therefore, identifying specific trigger thoughts can be tough. Writing out your thoughts, even when you don't feel anxious, can be therapeutic and will keep you present while on the road.
3. Avoid Your Triggers
Before you leave, it may be helpful to come up with a list of everything that triggers your anxiety and try to minimize your exposure to it while on your journey. For some people, it's alcohol, and for others, it can be crowded bars; whatever usually triggers you, staying away from it will keep your mind at ease.
4. Repeat a Mantra
For some, positive self-talk and repeating words or phrases when anxiety strikes is powerful and rewires the thought process. Saying phrases to yourself such as "this too shall pass and I can stand this" or "this is just a feeling" can shift your mind in any way you desire.
5. Go For a Run
Let it all go. Running is one of the best ways to relieve stress and tension in a healthy way. If you're in a foreign country, have someone come along with you, set a playlist, and take a therapeutic run.
6. Tell People
It's uncomfortable and difficult to explain the feeling to others you're with who may not have experienced this anxious feeling, but it helps to tell people. Saying it out loud will instantly give you power over your own mind.
7. Remember, It's Just a Feeling
Embrace your thoughts. Don't deny the many feelings and emotions that may arise, but know that this too shall pass (cliché, but true). You've gotten through this before, and you can do it again.