- Calm your nervous system with a relaxation technique. Whether you are in the planning phase of an elaborate vacation or already sitting on the runway, 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.
- Write down your worries. The mere act of putting pen to paper creates some detachment from your concerns that will help you achieve some objectivity.
- Mind the mind with Cognitive Therapy. Take your list of worried thoughts (having an accident, getting sick on your trip) and ask yourself the question: how likely is it that the outcome I fear will really happen? A common exercise in Cognitive Therapy involves creating a list of worries vs. reality-based thoughts. Add a second column to your list of worries and write thoughts that are more reality based and adaptive. This evaluation is intended to help you ascertain if there is evidence that supports your worries.
- Acknowledge inner resources You’ve encountered and lived through many new situations, like starting a new job, moving to a different home, going on (and even enjoying!) previous vacations. Say to yourself: I survived that and I can survive this. I have made successful trips before and I will again.
- Remember that there are stores where you are going. Packing for a trip can paralyze an anxious traveler. Just remember – it is not a disaster if you forget to pack everything.
- If flying is a fear, consult a professional who specializes in phobias. A fear of flying is not uncommon. Be sure to take a good book or an i-pad on which you can watch a film, listen to music, or play a game. It will be helpful to have something to keep your mind busy while you’re in the air.
- 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.”
Author: Carolyn Daitch, Ph.D has been a psychologist in private practice for 30 years. She is the director of the Center for the Treatment of Anxiety Disorders in Farmington Hills, near Detroit. www.anxiety-treatment.com