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Traveling is a uniquely anxiety-inducing experience—even if your destination is somewhere exciting, you can pretty much count on the journey to be stressful. So we turned to Jamie Price, wellness expert and co-founder of Stop, Breathe & Think, for her tips.
“Travel anxiety has a way of reinforcing itself through an ongoing feedback loop of thoughts and feelings. It often begins with a general feeling of worry and unease, which sets off a chain of thoughts,” she says in a startlingly accurate description of our minds every day of the year.
Example: You start thinking about how difficult travel will be or of everything that can go wrong. Then your body responds with a sensation, like a heavy, sinking feeling in your belly or a rapid heartbeat—which triggers even more thoughts and emotions, and so on. Each experience sets off another, exacerbating your anxiety. (Okay, so Jamie’s a wellness expert/mind-reader, cool.) Here’s how to deal.
"Learn to observe your thoughts and feelings without getting caught up in them. You're not trying to stop your thoughts; rather, you are strengthening your ability to watch them come and go. It's the difference between standing on a riverbank watching the river flow by as opposed to jumping in and trying to reverse the flow."
"Silently count each full cycle of breath (inhale and exhale), following each breath until you get all the way up to ten. When you reach ten, start at one again. When you notice you are thinking about something else, just go right back to one and start over. Counting breaths can help you cut through the clutter of thoughts that exacerbate anxiety."
"Breathing in for a count of four, holding the breath for a count of seven and breathing out for a count of eight will soothe your nervous system and can also be used to help you fall asleep."
"Breathe in through your nose as you push your stomach out and breathe out through your mouth as you pull your stomach in, maintaining a relaxed and slow pace that feels natural to you. Breathing deep into your belly calms the nervous system and decreases the body's stress response."
"Take your own mental vacation to a place that helps you feel calm and safe by imagining in detail what you can see, hear, taste and touch. Relaxing images can help relieve feelings like fear, worry and anxiety and improve your mood in only a few minutes."