If you’re a regular reader of this blog or you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that I suffer with anxiety. It’s quite obvious really, I’ve spoken about it enough and I’m always as open and honest as I can possibly be with my mental health because I know that so many other people suffer too. My anxiety journey has been a long, complicated and quite frankly, weird one. I won’t go into the details here but you can find out more about my personal anxiety journey throughout my Mental Health category if you wish to know more! Going about my day to day life has become increasingly more difficult since I developed this condition. I get anxious about almost everything but over the years I’ve pushed and pushed myself and I’d say I’m in a semi-decent place at the moment in regard to my mental health.
Holidays are something I’ve always enjoyed. I may not have always been on the most exotic, the furthest, or the most exciting, but holidays are a way to relax, unwind, spend time with loved ones, and just forget about the daily grind for a while. Well… relaxing and unwinding are much more difficult when you have anxiety and your brain doesn’t allow you to relax or unwind because it sees everything – yes, even that child playing on a swing – as a potential threat. Fun times eh?
But I think everyone, whatever their illness, mental or physical, should be able to go on and enjoy holidays if it’s possible for them. And thankfully now we’re in a time where technology and advances in equipment are making holidays more doable and more accessible for people that need extra help. I never understood any type of struggle with going on holiday before my anxiety hit – I was incredibly naive. But if anything, it’s made me all the more grateful for the holidays I do go on and the times where my anxiety does let me enjoy myself instead of trying to ruin my life.
I’ve learnt various coping strategies for dealing with going on holiday since I was diagnosed because I don’t want to miss out on holidays and short breaks because of my mental health. Thankfully, electric wheelchairs are ideal for those who have problems with their mobility and are a great aid for some people on holiday. Whilst I don’t have the experience on having a physical disability, I do understand how debilitating a mental one can be so here are some of my best tips for dealing with anxiety when it comes to holidays:
Get organised well in advance
Leaving things until the very last minute is enough to send anyone’s nerves sky rocketing, but being prone to anxiety anyway, feeling out of control and like I’m not organised makes things even worse. I always make lists of things I want to take, print anything out that needs printing, ensure I have tickets and vouchers and whatever else I might need handy at least 3 days before I go.
Which leads me nicely onto this point… lists. Lists are your very best friend if you’re anxious about going on holiday and the whole process of going on holiday makes your mind a bit frantic. I make lists for just about everything and I usually make them in the notes on my phone because that way, I can add a check list and tick things off as I go along. I make a list of clothes, toiletries, food to take if necessary – anything that can go in a list, will!
Research everything thoroughly before going
If like me, you’re not a fan of the unknown and although you like going on holiday, you’re still anxious about new places then researching before you go definitely helps. I always make sure I check out the hotel on various sites, look at photos, read reviews (although only the good ones – please don’t torment yourself with the bad ones, people will honestly moan about anything these days!), the local restaurants – anything that you think you’ll be doing.
Wake up early
When I’m actually on the holiday, I always make sure I wake up early (a lot earlier than my partner) for a number of reasons. Firstly, rushing can heighten your anxiety so waking up early to allow yourself more time is definitely helpful. Secondly, I like structure and order, so waking up early allows me to have a little “holiday morning routine” which sticking to each morning can calm my nerves. And lastly, it’s quiet. Holidays are usually frantic and busy, but waking up early gives me some time alone in the quiet to assess my thoughts, maybe do a bit of meditation and just chill for a while.
Keep your coping mechanisms on you at all times
Whether that’s anxiety medication, herbal remedies, earphones, a book, a notepad – whatever you use to cope and manage your anxiety, make sure it’s with you at all times so at any point, you can whip it out and know that you have that comfort blanket. Even if you’re feeling anxious in a restaurant or on transport, pop your headphones in or get out a notepad and start jotting down your thoughts. It’s your holiday after all!
And lastly, certainly not a point that only people with anxiety need to take on board but anyone really and that’s staying hydrated. Feeling ill on holiday is one of the worse things in the world – it doesn’t matter where you are or what you’re doing but it can really ruin the experience. Although sometimes illness is unavoidable, getting dehydrated is avoidable and taking stock of how much water you drink is difficult on holiday when you’re almost constantly on the go. Keep a bottle of water with you at all times.
Do you have a physical or mental illness which you have to adapt to when it comes to holidays? What ways have you actively managed your mental health whilst away from home? Let me know!
* This post is sponsored by Pro Rider Mobility