How exploring changed my life for the better: Travelling with Anxiety

“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life,

live in the moment, live in the breath.”
Amit Ray

Hi, my name’s Hannah and I suffer with anxiety, it’s a condition which is rather new to me, I don’t shout it from the rooftops, but it’s not something that I am ashamed of either. It came as a symptom of a balance disorder I suffered with a few years ago and it never quite went away. Suffering with it is a surreal experience for me; I’m an incredibly laid back person 98% of the time, but occasionally I start to feel tense, my head tingles and my breathing becomes tight, anxiety takes its hold. Normally, when I’m at home I’d go and chill out in my own space, I’d mediate and calm myself down, however, this isn’t always easy to do when you’re on the road.

My friends who know about how I suffer with it and who, some themselves, also suffer often tell me that I’m brave to have gone travelling whilst dealing with anxiety. At times however, I have felt less than brave; I had a panic attack at the gate just before I got on my first ever flight to Thailand, I was texting my mum to tell her that I couldn’t do it, no way, no chance, I couldn’t go. It seems ridiculous to me now, thinking back to it but I had allowed the anxiety to infect my thoughts and it almost made me miss the experience that completely changed my life for the better. I decided right then and there, that there was no way I was going to let it affect my life again, I feel it often on the road, I’ve accepted that travelling allows my body to feel all that life has to give me, and that also includes my anxiety.

 

Dealing with Anxiety en-route to Costa Rica

I try and keep it quiet when my mind starts playing tricks on me, after days of partying, not getting enough sleep and being constantly on the move I kind of expect to be a wee bit frayed. I’ve spent bus journeys from Nicaragua to Costa Rica on the edge of a panic attack, I’ve felt that the air was too thick to breathe on the Thai Gulf, and I felt so out of it in Kuwait it was like I was walking in a dream. Despite all of these aspects of my anxiety, there’s one thing that always brings me back to the moment; that is remembering that I am lucky enough to get to explore the world. I look out from bus windows when I feel claustrophobic and see the jungle cascading over hilltops, I open my eyes and see the sea glistening like a thousand diamonds whilst I’m standing upon its edge. I remember that I am here, in the moment. I breathe, I hold, I let go and I smile.

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Dealing with Anxiety: En Route to Ometepe

Sometimes, it’s okay to be afraid, just as long as you accept it and then let it go. Enjoy the moment, enjoy the now and love every single second of it. Because of travelling I can now deal with my anxiety in a much better way; I don’t need to remove myself from a situation to calm down; I just have to open up to it and know, that in the end it’ll always be okay; I trust myself to see the good in every situation, to see the beautiful world no matter how dizzy my mind can get and to know, that even when my heart starts to palpitate, I just have to stop, breathe and smile.

 

How do you deal with any worries you might have on the road?

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13 thoughts on “How exploring changed my life for the better: Travelling with Anxiety

      • Claire says:

        Hi 🙂
        You are amazing!! I have generalised anxiety but I hate travelling in cars, trains and just would never get on a plane 😦 I hate being shut in and out of control I like to think I can just get out if I feel bad. I have a long journey to Scotland in September and just cant imagine doing it but also I would hate to miss the family wedding.
        I have just read this and you have inspired me so much what a unique way to look at this situation. Maybe I can do it. You are right its always ok in the end. Thank you so much. I always think I would love life if I didnt have anxiety but like you said accept it as part of life and get on with it. Its a shame to miss out.
        You truly are inspiring and I will try to remember your words at times of worry. All the best that things ease for you over time 🙂
        Xx

  1. Ally (Digital Diva) (@DigitalDivaUK) says:

    I get the same with travelling and it’s really refreshing to read this post. For some reason I get quite anxious on coaches/buses, I feel trapped….like I can’t get up and walk around or even get off when I choose. It’s like you say, knowing that it will pass and reminding yourself that it will.

    • hanwanderlust says:

      I know exactly how you feel, it’s the claustrophobic feeling. I find that sitting by a window and watching the world roll by helps a lot. I’m sorry that you go through the same thing, but it just goes to prove that even though at times we feel pretty rubbish we refuse to let it stop us. 🙂

  2. David Ward says:

    I loved this post, no matter how much anxiety effects us and what we do, we musn’t stop it from doing what we love and trying and exploring new things, I myself have just returned from travelling and at times I didn’t think I could cope and get through it but the thought of seeing the world and how beautiful life is got me through 🙂 Happy travels

  3. lizbert1 says:

    Thank you for your post and for sharing how you are overcoming anxiety whilst travelling. I’m in a very similar situation travelling for the summer at least and appreciate knowing there are others out there with similar experiences and also some helpful tips! Travel, its said, broadens the mind but more than that it makes me value every last second of the experience and really stay in the moment, which may be fleeting, which is something I struggle with at home. So in a strange way, travelling with anxiety sometimes heightens the experience and stops me becoming complacent about where I am! Strange to think that anxiety might actually help to appreciate a place better eh!! Keep putting one foot in front of the other and who knows where you will end up! Enjoy your adventures! X

  4. Alex says:

    It’s so good to know I’m not alone in feeling trapped whenever I travel…I love your outlook, it really is very brave & inspirational. I have a 15 month old son now & so it is even tougher for me to travel as I fear my panic will mean I won’t be able to care for him so well..therefore I barely ever travel now & this makes me worry he will miss out in the future on all those rich experiences I know are out there. I’m working on improving things but its good to know I’m not the only one, perhaps this will drive me on to keep trying to travel further each time. Thanks all x

  5. Sally says:

    Great post. I am so glad you found travelling good Travelling has definitely helped me. I still get anxiety and worry about absolutely everything, but not nearly as much as I did when I was at home. I also suffered with depression which being away has really helped with! I would advise anyone with these troubles to travel as soon as they are mentally and physically able to

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