This is a guest post from Carolyn Daitch, PhD. Carolyn is an expert on anxiety and has written several books on the topic. She is the Director for the Treatment of Anxiety Disorders.
As we approach the month of August when many of my clients schedule their summer getaways, the topic of travel-related anxiety comes up frequently.
On that theme, I wanted to share a list of tips with you that I often give my clients to help them take the stress out of their vacations:
1. Calm your nervous system with a relaxation technique. It’s hard to think reasonably when your body is anxious. Listen to a meditation CD, or practice slow breathing to lower your baseline anxiety level.
2. Write down your worries. The mere act of writing creates some detachment from your concerns that will help you achieve some objectivity.
3. Mind the mind with Cognitive Therapy. Take your list of worried thoughts and, for each item, ask yourself the question: how likely is it that the outcome I’m fearing will really happen? This evaluation is intended to help you acknowledge that there may be very little evidence that your worries will come to fruition.
4. Acknowledge inner resources. You’ve encountered and lived through many new situations, eg. starting a new job, moving to a different home, even going on (and even enjoying) previous vacations. Say to yourself: “I survived that challenge and I know I can survive this one.”
5. Remember that there are stores where you are going. It’s not a disaster if you forget to pack everything.
6. If flying is a fear, bring this topic into your personal therapy. There are therapeutic interventions that can help! And, be sure to take a good book or a tablet on which you can watch a film, listen to music, or play a game. It’s good to have something to keep your mind busy while you’re in the air.
7. Embrace uncertainty. Let’s face it: life is uncertain and travel is even more so. Say a self-statement: “I accept uncertainty. I may not like it, but I can handle it.”
Director: Center for the Treatment of Anxiety Disorders
Fellow and Certified and Approved Consultant, ASCH