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Conquering Anxiety on the Trip of a Lifetime

February 9, 2018


No matter how many vacations I have planned or road trips I’ve spearheaded, whenever a new adventure comes along, I am faced with the fact that I have anxiety.


The thought of planning a week’s worth of activities is enough to make my heart race even today, four weeks from our departure date. These activities will take place in a foreign country, where I will have to attempt to communicate with people who don’t speak my language. One of these activities is ZIPLINING. You’re telling me I’m going to hook myself to a harness and soar through the air hundreds of feet above ground, dodging tree limbs along the way? My idea of an adrenaline rush is sprinting through the finish line of a half marathon, not putting all my faith in a cable of stainless steel.


And before the ziplining, I have to get to Costa Rica in the first place. I booked my flight, but what if the plane gets delayed because of bad weather, or worse, a faulty engine? What if I lose my passport or someone steals my backpack? What happens if my luggage makes its way to India instead of Costa Rica and I have to spend ten days wearing dirty travel clothes? What if I exhaust my snack supply and starve to death?

This is the rabbit hole I journey down every time I think about traveling.


When I get worked up, I have to remove myself from the stressful situation and remind myself that I am only human. I cannot control the forces of nature, and I don’t know how to operate an airplane. I just have to trust that everything will work out as intended. Of course, I don’t come to this conclusion easily. Here are a few methods I use to mend my mental health.


This may just be because I am a writer, but often, the best remedy for my anxiety is to read and write. I keep a good, light-hearted book in my bag to help me escape into someone else’s world. Or I take out a notepad and pen, and I write until I forget that I was anxious in the first place. Journaling about my feelings is cathartic, and when I read these journals months and years in the future, I will feel proud that I handled my uneasiness so well.


Another (probably obvious) way to combat my anxiety is to drink water. My friends know that I don’t drink enough water. I chalk it up to my inherent stubbornness. However, anytime I quench my thirst with water tinged with a little cucumber or lemon, I’m reminded that drinking water doesn’t have to be a chore, and it can in fact be enjoyable. Plus, I hear water keeps your body functioning properly, or something.


This anxiety-curbing method is difficult to perform in a crowded airport, but when I feel very anxious, I drop everything and go for a run. When I’m at my gate waiting for a flight and the jogging atmosphere is less than ideal, I’ll make a couple of rounds through the terminal, leaving someone responsible to watch my carry-on, of course.


Finally, unless my introvert tendencies are peaking, it helps me to talk through my anxious feelings with someone. That person doesn’t have to be my best friend, or even someone who knows me well, but I just need someone willing to hear me spew out the often convoluted thoughts that take up my brainspace. And grab a snack with me after.


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