What is travel anxiety?
Dr Meg Arroll, a Chartered Psychologist and Ambassador for Healthspan says, “Travel anxiety can be anything from feeling nervous about a trip to a full-blown flying phobia. It’s a common problem that can affect up to 50% of travellers. [i] Worries about whether you’ve remembered important documents, if there will be delays and the physical sensation of flights can make going away a torment rather than a joy. If you have any pre-existing health problems that require easy access to the toilet, travelling can feel even scarier. However, there are many ways we can tweak our mindset to cope well with the uncertainty of travel and products to settle the stomach.”
Set your mindset to calm for travel
Planning and preparing for a trip can ease travel anxiety. Practical things like keeping travel documents in the same holder at home as when travelling can help as you’ll always know where they are. Preparing our minds for possible anxiety-inducing events such as delays also make travelling less stressful. Visualise a problem and see yourself coping with it well – you’re staying calm, keeping an eye out for updates but perhaps reading while you wait. Our minds like to tread worn paths so replaying a smooth journey in your head will make it easier to keep on top of any anxiety.
Don’t let anxiety ruin your sleep
Poor sleep the night before a trip is common as we stay awake worrying about the journey. Sleep deprivation worsens travel anxiety so combat night-before jitters with a natural remedy such as A.Vogel’s Dormeasan® Sleep Drops (£10.50, 50ml, avogel.co.uk), containing Valerian root and Hops. This herbal tincture is non-habit forming and Valerian has been shown in studies to improve sleep without unpleasant side effects. [ii] Take 30 drops of Dormeasan® 30 minutes before bed both before travel and if you have any problems sleeping while away. 10-20 drops taken once or twice during the day also eases travel anxiety itself.
Relax try CBD
CBD stands for cannabidiol (can·na·bid·i·ol) – an ingredient naturally sourced from hemp plants. Cannabidiol in the form of CBD supplements may help to reduce muscle tension, restlessness and fatigue. It may also help with the anxiety caused by travelling and has been shown to help reduce anxiety, muddled thoughts, social discomfort and anticipatory anxiety significantly. [iii] Try, Healthspan High Strength CBD Oil 6.4mg capsules (available in packs of 30, £15.95, www.healthspan.co.uk). Start on a low dose first and if your medicine is known to interact with grapefruit juice then you should also avoid taking CBD.
Soothe tummy troubles
Travel anxiety can lead to range of physical symptoms including an upset stomach. Natural silicic acid (a soluble form of silicon) can help to reduce tummy symptoms. Despite its name, it is not acidic, but highly soothing. Taken orally up to three times a day, silicic acid gel lines the stomach and intestines, which helps to reduce intestinal spasms. Colloidal silicic acid is used to treat a wide range of gastrointestinal disorders, including nausea, stomach pains, diarrhoea and symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome – especially where symptoms are worsened by stress. Try Silicolgel (£8.29, 200ml, A.Vogel, Boots, silicol.co.uk)
And … breathe …
For people who have a flying phobia, take-off and landing can be particularly tough. As fear rises, our breathing tends to quicken and become shallow through our chests. This type of panic breathing feeds into our stress response, so one of the best ways to calm anxiety in the air is by deep breathing. Place one hand on your chest and one on your belly. Breathe deeply until the hand on your chest is still and your tummy lifts on the inhale and dips when you exhale. Repeat in your mind “I am safe, I am secure” on each breath.
Travel to thrive
Miriam Akthar a Positive Psychologist and author of ‘A Little Book of Happiness’ concludes that travel boosts mood and mental health as well as delivering both pleasure and purpose, which are two major dimensions of wellbeing. Travelling also give us the opportunity to enhance our social connectedness through meeting new people and exploring new cultures. It opens up the horizons, exposes us to new experiences and can lead to new possibilities and opportunities in life. Travel boosts positive emotions which are known to protect both mental and physical health. While negative emotions help you to survive, positive emotions help you thrive so by dealing with travel anxiety we can enjoy the benefits seeing the world.