Travelling with anxiety can be tough but it can be done with a few little tricks in your bag or pocket. Here's a little post to show you what I used on the train journey to settle my nerves and keep anxiety sat beside me rather than on top of me! I really hope this helps and gives you some of ideas of what you might be able to use to help ease your travel anxiety.
Emetophobia is the main source of my anxiety, the fear of vomiting, catching viruses from others etc..can send my head in a spin and panic attacks at the ready. Whether my trusty little bottle of hand sanitiser actually works is debatable but knowing it's there and using it when I need settles my mind and eases my nerves. Travelling on public transport is way out of comfort zone, it makes me feel awkward and even less confident than usual so wrapping myself up in a scarf and adding a pair of oversized sunglasses to my outfit genuinely helps. It makes me feel safer, like I'm in my own little bubble where nothing can get to me. Another thing that helps is gum! Chewing eases my anxiety quite quickly so I'm never without a pack of gum.
Distractions are key to battling anxiety short term. Though it doesn't cure anxiety, it does relieve the symptoms and allows you to carry on and avoid panic attacks. A good book is a good way of distraction. 'Wasted' is my favourite book (an odd choice if you know the contents) by my all time favourite author. I must've read this book about 10 times already but the familiarity of it is really comforting. If anxiety is too much and my head is just too full, I'll flick through a magazine instead. It's still a distraction but doesn't need your full attention.
This is probably the most useful tool in my bag. My music. Music is something that helps me a lot, when I'm stressed, anxious, scared, whatever the emotion, music is a huge help and a comfort. Before I took this trip to see my friend, I pulled together a special playlist called 'My Happy Place', full of the songs that I love or songs that hold special memories for me. Being wrapped in my scarf, headphones in, music on loud, you can pretend that you're in your own little world, safe from anxiety, comforted by music where nothing is going to hurt you and everything is ok! If there's one tip I hope that you take away from this post, it's the power of music!
Other little tips for travelling with anxiety are:
- scents: scents can be a really powerful way to calm your nerves. If you have a favourite scent, try to have it with you. For me, it's the smell of vanilla so I spray myself with a vanilla body spray or spray my scarf.
- reservations: if you're travelling by train, try to reserve a seat. It's so much less hassle when you know that you can just get on the train and have a seat. A step further, is to book a first class seat. This means that you get a super quiet carriage.
- travel at off-peak times. If you can, travel between 10am and 4pm then after 7pm. These are all much quieter times to travel than say 9am.
- Take care of yourself: I'm usually the one that is saying 'face your fear' but sometimes when you're on your own, it's just not possible. In these cases, you need to look after yourself. Whether it's moving to a different seat to make yourself feel more comfortable or taking breaks from the crowds when needed, it doesn't matter. At the end of the day, you should be proud of yourself for getting there in the first place!
I really hope that this post helps with some travel anxiety and that you can find at least one of these little tricks helpful. In March, I will be travelling to Japan, so I will try to put together a new travel anxiety post for long haul flights.
I'm so sorry that my blog has been neglected for some time. Student life is hard work but I hope to post at least one blog a week...*fingers crossed*. If there's anything, in terms of Anxiety, Emetophobia or Eating Disorder information/posts/advice you'd like me to cover, please let me know and I'll do my very best to help!
Take care everyone and travel safely.