In one of my most recent posts, I shared a selection of photos and a little insight into what I got up to on my latest holiday away. But the areas that I missed out was the crippling anxiety I experienced throughout the trip. I suffer with anxiety anyway, so it was expected my anxiety would rocket sky high being away from home and out of my comfort zone. It was a tough week and took a lot out of me. But now I’ve been and survived the time away, I thought I would share with you some tips and things I found useful when I was on holiday to manage my anxiety. I’d like to hope that this will help some of you who also suffer and are worried about how you’ll cope being away from home.
Prepare – Most of us worry to be prepared for the worst, right? Well use all you know about being prepared and instead use it in a more useful concept. Before going away, whether this is weeks or even months leading up to it, prepare yourself the best possible way you can. This might include putting a relaxing routine into place that you might not do as of yet and then will be able to use when you’re away also, such as self-care activities like CBT and thought challenging to manage your worries.
Also get in touch with someone you find it easy to talk to about your struggles or even talk with your therapist/counsellor about how you feel regarding going away, they’ll be able to help you and also give you the opportunity to rant about how you’re feeling to someone who will have a neutral response. By putting steps into place to ensure you’re in the best mind set you possibly can be and know how to deal with any bad days is essential. I believe it helped me a lot once I got there, because I already had a plan in place how I was going to deal with high anxiety!
Another thing to bare in mind is to set yourself reasonable expectations for the trip. If you’re really worried about it and suffer even when you’re at home, then don’t say to yourself you’re going to be fine just because you’re away. Sadly this is unlikely, it doesn’t change where we are in some cases. A more reasonable expectation would be ‘Yes I am going to feel anxious and probably awful, but as long as I get there and try to enjoy myself, then that’s an achievement in it’s self.’ Accept how you’re going to feel, try to be positive however hard you’ll find the experience and act your way into feeling calm. Envision yourself being calm when you’re there and having a great time rather than one that resembles a diastase.
Awareness – Whoever it is you’re going on holiday with, whether this is family, friends or your partner, make them aware of how you’re feeling about going away from home. Share the sorts of things you’re worried about. They might also be worried about the same things and together you can offer support before and once there. This will also give you a reassurance if they are aware of how you’re going to be leading up to the event, as well as when the holiday happens. It will help them to understand what to expect from you and know how to react to when you’re struggling or need an extra bit of support.
Make time for you – Holiday’s can sometimes be full on if you go into full tourist mode! Particularly if you go away to a place where there a lot of sights to explore and not a lot of time to relax by the pool if you’re in a hot country. However fully packed your schedule may or may not be, take some time out of you to relax, look after yourself and even unwind at night from the day you’ve had. It is so important to do this! Make time for yourself!
This is also super important before you head to bed if you’re feeling anxious. Sleep effects performance and if you’re feeling run down from being anxious, then it’s crucial you try to relax before you head to bed to ensure a good enough sleep. This is where I went wrong on holiday. I didn’t get a very good sleep at all, so over the week the anxiety kept building and building each day, due to a lack of sleep. I know next time I go away this is something I’m going to be working extra hard at.
Do things that you find relaxing and enjoyable. This might be reading, playing on an app on your phone, writing in your journal, flicking through a magazine, colouring or drawing, whatever the activity it is that you know works perfectly in relaxing you, then do it and incorporate it into your routine when on holiday. Also it is important that within a routine to make it similiar to the one you carry out at home. This can be hard when you’re away because you’re in a new environment, but also doing things that you might not do at home, like chilling by the pool or eating out every night. But if you eat at a certain time at home, then try eat the same sort of time when away and however you unwind before bed, try do the same again to keep things familiar to you. This will help ease your anxiety.
Also it is super important to make yourself feel good. Amongst those enjoyable activities, take some time out to make you feel good. Run yourself a bath if you can, give yourself a manicure or head to the spa for a treatment, you might also want a massage from either your partner or again at the spa in the area to relieve tension, if you’re in a hot country make sure you’re taking care of your skin, trying to keep it hydrated from being outside in the sun all day and avoiding being burnt, chose some healthy snacks like fresh fruit and a refreshing cool drink, keep up your skin care routine and take a break from applying make-up on your face for the duration of your time away, give your skin a chance to breathe and always remember to smile!
Get a good nights sleep – As mentioned, this was where I struggled and also felt a huge contribution of this effected how my mood was during the day. Some tips I would recommend trying when on holiday or away from home when trying to sleep is going to bed roughly the same time every night. I know that when you’re on holiday, you’ll probably want to stay up a bit later to have some cocktails or take a walk along the beach, but if you want to ensure you’re ready to the next day and also can manage your anxiety, then going to bed each night at the same sort of time will help you get into a good sleep pattern.
Also make sure you’re relaxed. Remember above I mentioned some activities you might want to do to unwind and chill, these can be incorporated into your routine before bed. If you do find yourself being unable to sleep or have an unsettled sleep, then try not to fret about it and instead tell yourself that it’s ok, you will eventually get to sleep, you just need a little more time to drift off and that it isn’t a problem (even if it is an issue, don’t treat it like it is one!). Continue to carry out activities that make you sleepy or relaxed. If another person on your holiday can’t sleep either, then why not sit up and talk to them so you feel less alone. An alternative method to this might include texting a friend or someone close to you who’s not on the holiday to catch up with them and also express your worries if that’s what’s stopping you from sleeping.
Bring your home comforts – If you’re someone who hates being out of their safety zone and also gets home sick, then bringing things that remind you of home can make you feel at ease when in a new place. For me, even though I experience a lot of anxiety there, my home is my comfort zone and a place where I can just be me. I bet a lot of you will feel this way, even if you don’t suffer with anxiety, you’ll feel your home is your safe place. Bring any items that make you feel at home or even remind you of home. This might be a particular object, like a treasured gift or even a teddy you’ve had since you were young, maybe a blanket or a cushion that you sleep with.
One thing to remember and always stick by whenever you’re feeling home sick and like you have to go home because you can’t deal with being away any longer is to remind yourself that it isn’t the place that is making you anxious, it is the thoughts you’re thinking that are making you feel this way. Reminding myself of this literally helped me so much!!!
Don’t avoid it!!!! – Whatever you do, just don’t avoid the holiday or time away all together. You’ll be letting the anxiety win. You don’t want that. You want to beat it and survive. I know it hard’s and it will be so scary, but honestly once you even get there you’ll feel better that you made the first step and can now challenge yourself for the duration of your holiday. Facing up to your fears might feel the worst thing, but overtime you’re teaching yourself that you can achieve anything if you put your mind to it and push yourself through 🙂
Figure out your fears – Figure out what you are actually worried about and why you’re feeling that way. What are you fearing that will happen? Why do you think this will happen? Is there anyway you can challenge this fears? Is there a way you can see these fears from a different perspective? Evaluate your fears. Talk to someone who will be able to help you see them from a different angle and reduce the anxiety associated with them. Once you understand why you’re feeling such fear, then you can put steps into place to overcome these fears.
Remind yourself why you’re there and what you’re looking forward to – It’s more than likely you agreed to go on this holiday for a reason. It wasn’t to sit there racked with anxiety for the time or was it to just go for the sake of it. It was most likely because you wanted to go away, have fun with the people closest to you, explore new places, try to relax and add the experience to your memories. It might even be to face up to that anxiety and prove to it that you can do anything! Bare this in mind when you’re away. Use it to spur you on and to get through it however bad you might feel. You’re there. You’re facing it. You’ve got so many fun things to do look forward to. You can do it.
You can handle it – Whenever life throws at you or whatever your anxiety decides to do, you can cope with it. You can adapt yourself to deal with it, by following techniques you’ve learned and hopefully some of these tips I’ve shared within this post. I believe in you. I believe you can get through it, however tough it might be and however much you’ll want to give up, to just let it win because you can’t go on or even enjoy yourself anymore without this horrible mental illness taking over.
But, try to take a step back from how you feel. When we suffer from mental health, we’re very aware of how we feel inside, that we don’t really focus on what it is like from outside. Remember that it isn’t the place that is the problem, it’s the thoughts you’re experiencing, the physical symptoms that are reacting to these thoughts and the behaviours we carry out to accustom for the way we feel. Once you can calm yourself down, take a look at things from an outsiders view and be flexible with how you feel. It is then you will be able to overcome your anxiety and move forward, knowing how to manage it better next time.
Even if you don’t have the best time on holiday, that it was a total disaster and that the fear of going on another one anytime soon terrifies you, tell yourself that you’re going no matter what! Not going and fearing it its letting it win, keep going as many times as you like, fight the anxiety and you’ll come out stronger. I feel this way right now, I feel like the thought of going on another holiday will spark up some much anxiety, but I will still plan on going and I will manage my anxiety better.
How do you manage anxiety on holiday or when away from home?
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