One of my biggest concerns when I started travelling was how my anxiety disorder would get in the way of the gigantic list of things that I wanted to see and do around the world. The prospect that it could stop me from making any of my dreams come true absolutely terrified me. How could I achieve anything if I couldn’t control my mental health? Was I just setting myself up for failure?
My mind would always (and still does) play games on me with irrational thoughts. This silly little voice would tell me that I don’t deserve to be this content, I don’t deserve to travel and every now and again I would get a horrible feeling that it’s all going to be taken away from me. That something bad will happen. At times I can be so wary of happiness that it stops me from being present in the moment. It tries to bite away at the experience so I can’t fully enjoy myself.
So the most important thing I have to do is remind myself of why I want to travel. I always try to picture myself in the places I want to see with my anxiety nowhere in sight. I see myself laughing with strangers and getting to know new people. That’s just how it should be. Our irrational thoughts are unlikely to happen and if they do then we’ll survive them because living with anxiety takes a hell of a lot of strength.
I also try not to push myself too much. If I ever feel deflated, tired and like I’ve been doing more than my mind can handle then I’ll take a step back and change that up so that I can recharge. I’ll set myself some rules and make sure that I’m giving my body and mind whatever it is that it needs in that moment – sometimes it’s to be alone, switch off my brain and just relax, other times I need to be surrounded by people, talking to someone new in a loud bar that’s playing good music with a drink in hand. They say it’s all about balance right?
One thing that’s been incredibly important to me is the reminder that I can always go home. My heart is so full knowing that I have such a loving, caring family and bunch of friends back home that would welcome me back with open arms if I ever decided that this lifestyle was getting too much.
So the past few weeks I’ve been roaming around the west coast of America with an organised tour. I’ve definitely been one anxious little traveller but I’ve also had the most epic time hiking, exploring , meeting wonderful people and gazing up at the most beautiful of views. It’s been like hopping from one postcard into another. I’ve done things I never thought I’d do (which I’ll definitely write about in my big American blogpost) and I’m extremely glad that I didn’t back out.
A lot of people – in fact probably most – are battling with some form of anxiety behind their glossy Instagram posts. Don’t be fooled, don’t be embarrassed and don’t let it stop you from giving something new a try. Travelling can be healing by helping you understand your mind from a different perspective.
Please share you tips about travelling with anxiety! I’d love to hear them.