posted in: Stories, Tips | 0

I’m feeling anxious.

I’ve had generalized anxiety before, nothing severe, but I’m feeling specifically anxious about this trip. I’ve got a nervous feeling in my gut and I’m not sleeping well, waking up in the middle of the night or much too early in the morning.

I’m not sure what I’m anxious about, though there are some possibilities.

  • Something could happen between now and Saturday to mess up my travel plans.
  • Something could go wrong at home while I’m on the trip.
  • Something could go wrong on the trip.

It is, of course, silly to worry about about any of this. There’s nothing I can do about the first one. I’ve got a friend staying at my house while I’m gone, which is about all I can do about the second one. And as for the third one, well, it’s pretty much guaranteed that not everything will go according to plan. But that’s okay — at least, it’s supposed to be.

There are some remedies I could consider. Valerian root is widely considered a safe and effective remedy for anxiety and sleeplessness.  But it’s stinky. Taking it in capsule form might be the way to go if I decide this is an option to consider.

Energetix has a whole formula specifically for travel anxiety. But I’d have to get their products from a health-care provider, or maybe via mail order (and there’s no time for that), because they don’t sell retail.

Deep breathing and exercise are also considered to be good remedies for anxiety. And on the USA Today website I found the following pointers in an article about dealing with travel anxiety.

Step 1

Pinpoint the causes of your travel anxiety and write them down. Some of it might be linked to a fear of flying or worries about leaving an empty house. You might be afraid that something will go wrong on the trip. You must identify the sources before you can address them cognitively.

I guess I already did that up above.

Step 2

Review your list of “worry items” and write down ways in which you can take control over each item. For example, you can hire a house sitter or ask a neighbor to stop by if you’re worried about your home. The American University Counseling Center advises keeping yourself busy on the plane if you’re a fearful flier. An iPod, book or computer will distract you. You also can ask your doctor for anti-anxiety medication to take while flying. You might not be able to take control over every item on the list, but identify as many as possible.

I’m definitely not a fearful flier. And I don’t want to take anything that’s an actual drug. I think I’m writing this blog post as my way of taking control.

Step 3

Use cognitive thought-stopping techniques to deal with the anxiety-causing items that do not have a way in which you can take control, advises the American University Counseling Center. For example, you cannot prevent unexpected things from causing problems on your trip. Picture a giant red stop light in your mind when you start to worry about possible problems. Remind yourself, “I cannot do anything about this worry. It is better to save my energy now so I can deal with anything that might happen later.”

I’ve never been especially good with this kind of thought control.

Step 4

Calm yourself with controlled breathing. This technique can be used in transit as well as during your trip. The American University Counseling Center recommends breathing in while counting to four, holding your breath for four counts, then releasing it while you count to four.

I also read about a 4–7‑8 breathing technique that I think comes from Zen.

Step 5

Give yourself permission to have a less-than-perfect trip. You might suffer from anxiety if you are hoping to have the perfect vacation because you can never control every aspect. Acknowledge that fact and remind yourself that it’s okay if something goes wrong.

Yeah, I will just keep reminding myself of this.

Step 6

Ask your doctor for anti-anxiety medication if your fears are generalized. It is difficult to handle travel anxiety cognitively if you cannot find any specific reasons. The Anxiety Disorders Association of American explains that benzodiazepine medications like Xanax can be used as needed for short-term anxiety management during a trip.

No thanks. I’ll try to deal with this without prescription medication.

I expect I’ll be fine once the trip is underway. But right now the anxious feelings are suppressing the excitement I’ve been experiencing. I hope writing about it will help.

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