Travel anxiety


Marianna Kilburn
Qualified Life Coach
@MariannaKilburn
Ask Marianna


30 July 2012

Travel anxiety

Fears about travel can range from mild anxiety to a full-blown phobia. You may even experience panic attacks. Symptoms can vary, depending on the situation, and may include feeling faint, dizzy, short of breath, palpitations chest pains, trembling, numbness, shaking muscles, sweating, nausea and tingling. You may also feel very fearful and out of control.

It’s not known why some people are more fearful than others. One theory is that a fear or phobia may be linked to an event in the past.  For example, you had a bad experience on a plane, or were in a car accident that has left you petrified. This type of phobia responds very well to cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), in which you are helped gradually to confront and overcome your fears. Some people are just naturally anxious.

In some cases, travel anxiety may occur as a result of prolonged stress and anxiety. This may also happen if are unhappy about certain aspects of your life but feel powerless to control them. For example, if you are worried about finances, or work, or some other issue.  If there is no outlet for this ongoing frustration, an anxiety about travel becomes something tangible to focus on. Recognising and learning to cope with the underlying worries, usually makes the anxiety disappear.

If you feel travel anxiety is affecting your life – you should always seek help. Talk to your GP who can refer you to a skilled counsellor or psychotherapist.  Or, contact the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy – www.bacp.co.uk

You will also find lots of useful advice by contacting Anxiety UK – www.anxietyuk.org.uk who can put you in touch with an appropriate therapist (including complementary therapies) in your area.

There are also self help techniques you can try

Practice Distraction Techniques: Such as counting backwards, talking out loud, reading, singing.  All of these will help to distract your mind from focusing on your fears.

Focus on your destination –  for example, if you are flying to a holiday destination.  Imagine the beautiful blue water, sandy beach and palm trees.  Focus on how happy you will feel when you get there.  Or, if you are travelling by train to see a friend, focus on what you’ll be doing, places you plan to visit etc.  Doing this helps you to picture a positive outcome that will help to calm you down.

Take a herbal remedy to help you calm down:  For example, Stress Relief Daytime, contains which contains naturally sedative ingredients, such as the herb Valerian, that can help to ease anxiety. Or, try Avena Sativa (oatplant) a soothing remedy that helps calm the nervous system.

Take a mind calming flower essence: Carry a small bottle in your bag and take whenever you start to feel anxious. Useful remedies to try include Flower Emergency Essence that contains essences of Crowea, Dog Rose, Fringed Violet, Grey Spider Flower, Slender Rice Flower, Spinifex, Sundew and Waratah.  Or, try Bach Flower Rescue Remedy that contains Star of Bethlehem, Rock Rose, Cherry Plum, Impatiens and Clematis. This combinations is especially useful whenever you feel anxious of find yourself in a traumatic situation.

Breathe Deeply: This will automatically help you feel calmer, as brainwaves switch to soothing alpha mode. Take long, deep slow breaths using the whole ribcage until feelings of stress begins to subside. Feel the anxiety drain out of your body with each deep breath.  Close your eyes and breathing deeply, imagine the anxiety and tension draining out of the body, leaving you calm and relaxed.

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