ANXIETY AND TRAVEL

When you're anxious, absolutely every task which you have to face feels a thousand times bigger than it actually is. You work the smallest of things up inside your head so much that you start to doubt that you'd ever be capable of doing them. Even the most mundane aspects of life like taking a shower, walking out of the front door or speaking aloud in a room full of people feel like they'll kill you if you attempt them. To anyone who doesn't suffer with anxiety, the idea sounds hilarious. But when your brain is wired to think that absolutely everyone and everything is out to get you, it doesn't feel so funny.

One of the things which anxiety can make really difficult is travel. This applies not only to going on holiday and visiting new places, but to the act of getting to the destination itself. Driving on fast roads, cramming yourself into sweaty underground train carriages where it's difficult to escape staring eyes and even walking down a crowded street can get your heart going and cause panic.

Different people have different triggers when it comes to travel. Some people avoid the tube at all costs but love being behind the wheel. Others are terrified of the responsibility of driving but can handle public transport on a good day. It's all about knowing your limits, knowing your triggers and most importantly, knowing how to cope.

For me, driving will absolutely always be my preferred method of getting from A to B. If somebody offered me a 1 hour train journey or a 3 hour journey in the safety of my own car to reach the same destination, the car would be my choice every time. There's something about driving which allows me to feel in control. I know that I'll be able to drive directly to my destination and won't have to worry about waiting around for changeovers or not getting a seat and I know that when I want to leave, I won't have to wait for anybody. I can get straight in my car and go. Feeling stuck somewhere is something I don't cope well with, so having my car parked just outside always eases anxiety for me.

I think the most important thing when it comes to combating travel anxiety is assessing the obstacles that you know you're going to have to face before you put yourself into that situation. This can cover anything from making sure that your phone is fully charged and you have a screenshot of all of your train times and any changes you need to make before getting on the tube. to making sure that you have change for a toll bridge before a long motorway drive. Knowing that you've got a solution for any upcoming issues is one of the best ways to limit anxiety while travelling.


When it comes to travel, it's important to remember that it's okay to feel anxious. Being on public transport is actually a much weirder environment than we ever really consider. As a society who are so used to doing all that we can not to have to interact with people face to face (see; Deliveroo, Tinder, self checkouts, Airbnb, home delivery and pretty much every other app or device which allows you to replace human interaction with a buttons and formulas), public transport is a place which forces us to confront these people and often for long periods of time.

We squish into tiny spaces, bodies pressed against each other on the tube, hands awkwardly touching as we try to grab onto a metal pole as the train pulls into the station. Or we sit for a 10 hour flight, sharing an armrest and breathing the same air as someone who you've never met before and you'll never meet again. The movies represent these types of scenes as romantic and exciting. But are they? Nope. In my experience they're just sweaty, uncomfortable and anxiety inducing. So for real, it's okay if you feel your anxiety getting triggered on public transport. I totally get it.

What is good to know, however, is ways to combat this anxiety. Of course, there are different techniques for different methods of transport, but there are some general ones which are worth trying:

Don't forget your headphones. Headphones are the best way to shut yourself away from everyone around you and put yourself into a little bubble that nobody else can get into. Turn your music up and breathe.

Bring a good book. Obviously this doesn't apply if you're driving your own car. Just putting that one out there. But a good book on a plane or a train is always handy for whisking you away to a completely different location and helping you to focus and relax.

Breathe. This is such an obvious one, but one that I have to bring up. Just breathe. I know you're squished. I know you're uncomfortable. I know you feel like you're going to suffocate if you can't get off of this moving vehicle right now. But you're doing great.

Break the journey up. If you're in a situation where you can get off/stop and refuel, be sure to. Grabbing a hot drink half way through the journey, especially a long one, is a good way to give yourself a little break and some time to readjust before carrying on on your way.


Travelling is scary. Sometimes it can make you feel like the plans which are waiting for you on the other side of the journey aren't worth it. I spent a really long time feeling too afraid to leave my house and go to events or meet friends because it felt like too much of a hurdle to make the journey there. It can be draining and leave you feeling tired before the bulk of your day has even begun. But it gets easier once you teach your mind that you can do it. When you're anxious, you visualise yourself not being capable of doing things so much that you're brain starts to believe you and think that that's true. But it's not. You deserve to be out there living your life and you CAN do it. The hurdle is only as big as you allow it to become.


1 comment :

  1. This is a great post! I prefer to drive everywhere, it's not the fact that other modes of transport make me anxious, its just the fact that if I drive then I am in control and can stop etc whenever I want to. Out of all modes of transport, the tube is the one that makes me most anxious just because of the current social climate, and the fact i'm trapped underground does really freak me out! x

    Abi | abistreetx

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