7 Travel Anxiety Tips from a Psychiatrist | Tech US News

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Traveling is a gift. It makes us more connected to the world, can inspire us in ways we never imagined, and helps us bond with loved ones along the way. It can also leave us a little overwhelmed with anxiety.


Travel anxiety is nothing to be ashamed of, and if you have it, you’re far from alone. According to WebMD, about 18% of the American population has an anxiety disorder.


“Travel can be really stressful because so many things are out of your control,” shared Dr. Nina Vasan, MD, Real’s medical director and Stanford professor. Travel + Leisure. “From weather and mechanical delays to traffic and lost bags, there are many stressors that you can’t necessarily plan for or solve. Things that happen while you’re traveling can also have a big impact on your day or life.”


However, there are some tools you can add to your mental health arsenal to help. Here are seven travel anxiety tips to help relieve stress on your next trip.


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Pack an item that brings you joy.

If you’re prone to travel anxiety, Vasan suggests packing an item that makes you feel happiest, no matter what it is.


“Think of some things to take with you to make it a joyful or calming experience. This is different for everyone,” shared Vasan. “For example, think about the things you enjoy: a new book, a new TV show you’ve been wanting to watch, a podcast, or something that entertains you that makes traveling more fun.”



Channel nervous energy.

Feeling out of control? Find something to distract you, specifically something to distract your hands.


“Find something you can do with your hands to channel your nervous energy, such as knitting, coloring, embroidery, writing letters or postcards, and journaling. This allows you to be creative and use the time you’re spending in transit in a rewarding way and can make it feel less stressful,” Vasan said.



Plan your meals.

Vasan said you shouldn’t leave anything to chance, including your meals.


“Food can be a stressor for a number of reasons. Maybe you’re hungry in transit. Or maybe you don’t see any food options you like,” Vasan said. “Think ahead about what you want to eat and plan accordingly. Maybe that means packing food for the trip. Or if you plan to eat out, think ahead about what you might find satisfying.”


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Give yourself extra time.

The last thing you want to do is pile on more stress by being late. So, Vasan said, it’s good to make the extra time while in transit.


“The travel experience has become much more stressful lately, especially air travel. Give yourself extra time to plan ahead for any delays or things that might happen unexpectedly. Having the extra buffer time will make your trip feel much less stressful ” Vasan said. If you end up with too much extra time, find something to do, like catch up with a friend or loved one or walk around the train terminal or airport.



Try calming breathing techniques.

What is one thing you can do anywhere, anytime? Take a deep breath.


“Deep breathing, mindfulness and meditation are absolutely fantastic,” said Vasan. “I like diaphragmatic breathing to relieve anxiety and stress. It’s a deeper style of breathing, and I think that physical component can be really helpful in releasing stress.”



And move your body.

Another way to prepare your body for stress-free travel is to move around a bit.


“Physical movement is very helpful in reducing stress. Adding just five minutes here and there can be very helpful,” shared Vasan. “Maybe it’s taking the stairs instead of the elevator or walking through the airport terminal during your layover. Movement can be a game changer.”


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Have a backup plan.

One more way to reduce your chances of suffering from any travel stress is to always have a backup plan so you’re never left out in the cold.


“Planning for contingencies in advance can be helpful when dealing with work and family responsibilities,” added Vasan. “Before you start traveling, think ahead: If your flight home is cancelled, what are you going to do? Having a ‘crisis plan’ in place can reduce anxiety because you already know what you’re going to do.”



And don’t be afraid to ask for professional help.

Still feeling overwhelmed? ask for help


“If it’s at the level where your stress prohibits you from traveling, or if you notice enough stress that it prevents you from having a good experience while traveling, I think that means you’re reaching the level where a professional can help.” So go ahead and make an appointment with your therapist (or check out Real’s online services) to overcome any obstacles so you can focus on having the best travel experience of your life.

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