6 Simple Ways to Tackle Anxiety While Traveling
This post contains links to items I may receive a commission from if you click on them. I only make recommendations if I truly believe they are beneficial. More details here.
Perhaps what’s most frustrating about having anxiety is that we never know when it will strike next or how we will feel or where we will be or whom we will be with. Worrying about this is ironic because this leads us to having anxiety about having anxiety.
We just can’t win.
And while traveling? Yuck. That’s the worst. Since my anxiety partly stemmed from traveling to unknown places at a young age (specifically 6th grade science camp), I’ve learned what helps me the most on the road.
The beauty of each tactic is:
a) They are all free.
b) They can (mostly) be done anywhere at any moment — hello, traveling is not a problem!
c) They are all natural and don’t involve ingesting unnatural substances.
d) They have positive side effects (we need fewer symptoms, not more).
Whether you take medication or prefer not to, these may help tame your anxiety beast. They won’t work for everyone in the same way but in reading this I hope you realize what does work for you.
Blank pages don’t judge. They don’t spill secrets. They’re always where I leave ’em, except when I forget where I’ve left them.
But that’s my problem, not theirs.
When I feel overwhelmed and crippled by a thought, I write it down and the thought feels less overwhelming. Sometimes all we need to do to work through a struggle is to literally write it down.
I prefer small, hard bound journals with blank pages instead of lines, giving me the freedom to doodle and not worry about whether or not I’m writing straight and neatly (neatness is overrated, people! But that’s just me).
I’ve pretty much kept the journal section of Barnes and Noble in business through purchases just like this one. It has a simple, hard black cover that provides a hard writing surface for its 208 pages, also making it easy to find in a big ole’ purse or piece of luggage. But if you’re into lines and neatness, the journal linked above also comes with a “line template.” Or maybe try this one out for size.
I can’t say how many times this technique has kept me from hyperventilating or spiraling into a full on panic attack about whether a new anxiety symptom is surfacing its ugly head or I’m actually dying (which is never).
The trick is to learn how to do it correctly, because there is, in fact, a proper way to deep breathe and a wrong way that leads to headaches and light-headedness and grumpiness. This article on Psychology Today goes into a few exercises.
Best of all, deep breathing is a discrete way to relieve anxiety, because as all of us know, the curse of anxiety is not wanting anyone to know we have anxiety. And boy are we good at hiding it!
Mastering deep breathing provides a comfortable and silent way to get back together without bringing attention to ourselves. Unless of course your nose hums or you’re not deep breathing properly and you sound like the big bad wolf.
Don’t worry, you’ll get the hang of it with a little practice.
Yeah. I just made up that phrase: Short-hand yoga. What I mean is this yoga is easy to do while standing in your kitchen or sitting in a quiet room or telling your partner to go take a hike in the most peaceful and relaxing way possible. Each routine in A Morning Cup of Yoga takes about 15 minutes of time, or more or less, depending on your morning (or evening) routine.
Yoga is a preventative way to tackle anxiety, as well as something that can be done in the moment for a moment. It’s important to be in a mindful space, but the majority of the exercises in this little book are standing poses that can be done in your kitchen. Or bathroom. Or living room. Or back yard. Or your walk-in closet. Or on your kid’s trampoline. Whatever your cup of tea.
The cute illustrations in this book show a woman using her kitchen counter and an everyday, not fancy chair to do the poses. Just when you thought your kitchen was only good for cooking. How long does it take to make fried eggs and toast? Why not do some yoga while you’re waiting?
Coloring books are all the rage for adults nowadays, but I didn’t need some trend-spotter to tell me coloring is relaxing and relieves stress. I did, however, need an adult to go and create a zillion awesome coloring books I can’t stop buying for myself and everyone else I care about.
I think I spent over $100 on coloring books for Christmas gifts last year. Money well spent, if you ask me.
Best part is they can be shoved into backpacks, luggage, and those pockets on the back of car seats. Plus, there are really nice colored pencil carrying cases, too. My sister gifted me an awesome case (see the photo above) like this one that holds 72 coloring pencils (or markers) safely and securely. It’s perfect for a plane ride or a road trip or for coloring at home while watching Titanic until 2:30am on a Sunday night like I did…just last night.
I was coloring mermaids in one of my favorite coloring books. I mean, c’mon. Who doesn’t love mermaids? And this book is only like $6. Sa-weet!
If you’re not into mermaids and are behind the times in finding cool coloring books, here are a few of my other favorites (but beware, once you look you’ll get hooked!).
- Lost Ocean: An Inky Adventure and Coloring Book for Adults (I own it and also gifted one to my sister)
- Adult Coloring Book: Stress Relieving Animal Designs (gift from my sister)
- Art of Coloring Star Wars: 100 Images to Inspire Creativity and Relaxation (gift from my cousin)
- Fantastic Cities: A Coloring Book of Amazing Places Real and Imagined (I gifted to my dad)
- Creative Haven Whimsical Gardens Coloring Book (I gifted to my mom)
- Enchanted Forest: An Inky Quest & Coloring Book (I gifted to my other sister)
Christmas morning my family and I were all coloring in our pajamas. You could be doing that too, but don’t wait until Christmas. No time like the present to buy yourself a present.
The first anxiety symptom I ever experienced resurfaced a couple years ago — it feels like my throat is closing up, making it hard to breath. What a great first symptom for a 5th grader to experience, right? It’s like my body had me in a chokehold. Good grief.
When the stupid symptom decided to come out of retirement, not only did I recognize it like an ex-boyfriend I didn’t want anything to do with, I also noticed that if I started singing it began to dissolve. The logic behind this is pretty simple and perhaps even scientific (but I won’t make any claims).
Singing opens up the vocal chords and relaxes the throat, while also providing a new focus (or distraction) for my mind. Loosening up the vocal chords = no more tight throat feeling.
Since I enjoy singing, it’s a stress reliever for my anxiety overall. If I’m singing, I’m a happy camper, and now if I’m singing, I’m also lulling the anxiety beast to sleep.
Who cares if you “can’t sing”? I refuse to believe there are people who “can’t” sing. Hum. Whistle. Do whatever you like. Rap. Say what’s on your mind in a melodic fashion.
Even if you’re singing is as off-key as my balance when I trip in my high heels, you’ve really got nothing to lose except the chance to feel better. Nothing scares away the anxiety beast like a bunch of wrong notes. Before you know it, it will be running away, whimpering and covering its ears.
Again with loosening of the vocal chords. But also laughing is somewhat, in an unofficial capacity, proven to make us feel better. The phrase Laughter is the best medicine wasn’t just pulled out of thin air. Someone, somewhere was suddenly cured! And it was probably Jesus who told the joke. His words can heal!
They say that laughter is the best medicine, so, Stanley, you can throw away those pills you are cured. – Michael Scott, The Office
We’ll never know if this is true, but isn’t it nice to think it could be?
I think it is for me. I always feel better when I’m laughing. So naturally I turn to my favorites to ease my symptoms. With technology today, pulling up a YouTube clip, Netflix or Hulu show, or podcast is just a click away. My go-tos are Michael Scott of The Office, Kramer of Seinfeld, Cam of Modern Family and Frasier Crane of Frasier. Apparently odd, misunderstood, dramatic men are the key to my happiness… But on the listening side, I also enjoy Says You and Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me.
Or maybe I’ll see a squirrel or I’ll decide to make myself laugh by saying something silly. It works. Just force yourself. Who knows, you might end up floating to the ceiling like Mary Poppins, and then you’ll really be laughing.
What other techniques help relieve your anxiety while on the road? Share your thoughts in the comments below. Don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter. Thank you!