A lot of people have been asking me how I deal with my anxiety when I’m traveling. Unfortunately anxiety can come up, even when I’m on vacation. As a matter of fact, almost every time I’m taking off in a plane, it’s an extremely stressful episode. I know that an episode is coming when my palms start to sweat and breathing gets difficult. Sometimes I want to leave the plane! Well that isn’t an option, so I’ve come up with a routine to help me whenever I fly, or whenever else an anxiety attack starts to take place. I should start by saying I’m not a therapist and don’t have any training in this area, other than what I’ve learned trying to deal with anxiety myself. But through my experience dealing with anxiety, I have developed some methods that work pretty well for me. Here are 5 tips that I use for helping to deal with an anxiety attack.
1. Find A Safe Space.
The term “safe space” can mean a lot of things depending on the situation. It might mean leaving a crowded building or area that is making me on edge and making it feel difficult to breathe. If that’s not an option, maybe working my way towards an exit, which makes me feel more prepared for whatever situation might arise is the best I can do. Sometimes, just getting closer to an aisle or any more open area is the only possibility. Obviously, when you’re on a plane, train, bus, etc. you don’t have the opportunity to move at all, so turning my head away from a loud or aggressive event is the closest thing to a “safe space” I can find. And when all other options are gone, simply closing my eyes is the best I can do! Any way I can change my environment or perspective when I’m starting to feel anxiety, is a form of finding a safe space.
There’s nothing I’ve found that’s more beneficial when I feel frightened and helpless than a good breathing routine. Anything that can distract my mind from anxiety is helpful and concentrating on my breathing not only keeps me from thinking about it, but steadies my nerves and forces me to breathe correctly, which is one of the worst symptoms of anxiety. I use the 3-3-5 method of breathing which I learned from a great online therapist named Vincent Benedict, he is a wonderful Panic Attack Therapist. Which I am very happy that I've found him. The 3-3-5 breathing method is amazing and it helps me so much in every situation. Here is the link if you want to learn about it or you want to contact him for any information.
3. Imagine Positivity.
This is kind of an extension of finding a safe space but in this case, I use my imagination to change my environment. Whether it’s my childhood home, one of my favorite travel destinations or a past event that I cherish, imagining a positive experience usually helps me start to forget anxiety, especially when I try to really picture details of the place or event. I sometimes find myself so caught up in the memory that I may even become distracted so much that I forget anxiety altogether!
4. Chanting a Mantra.
This may not be what you think. Although mantra might mean different things to different people, to me it just means a calming, positive phrase to keep me grounded when anxiety hits and my own well being is beyond my control. I used to have a few phrases that I used repeatedly, but over time, I found that making one up on the spot helps keep me distracted and engaged. “Tonight, I will be sipping a margarita on a white sandy beach”, for example, or “I am living my dream of traveling to Greece” Whatever mantra you come up with you can repeat in your mind to help the anxiety pass.
5. Fun or Calming Activity.
If you have the option, engaging in any activity you enjoy will probably help. My all time favorite is to drink a cup of chamomile tea. It may not sound very active, but brewing of a warm cup of tea and the sensation of drinking it has become a great formula to reboot and get my mind off of the fear, stress and tension that go along with an anxiety attack. If possible, walking is a great way to get the blood flowing and channel some of that extra energy that often comes with an attack as well. If not, a cross word puzzle, good book, drawing or even whistling a song you like might help. Any mental or physical activity usually helps me curb an attack and often it’s mutually beneficial. I get distracted from anxiety and get something done in the process! Last but not least - Yoga. Nothing has helped my recovery more than yoga. The poses and concentration require the mind to get so focused that you forget about everything that might be bothering you. The disciplined breathing you practice doing yoga is also beneficial and keeps being helpful long after the practice is over.
So there you have it! I’ve used these 5 tips on every trip I’ve taken so far and in my daily life as well. Often times, they help me so much that I can skip a panic attack completely. I hope that anyone who’s suffering from anxiety will find some success with these methods as well!
Ciao for now,