Why Travel is Good for Anxiety Sufferers
February 9, 2016Amy Trumpeter
Are you a sufferer of anxiety? If so, have you ever been asked the following possibly ludicrous question – ‘If you have anxiety, how on earth do you travel?’ In today’s travel blog, I am going to explain why I feel that travel is actually a good thing for anxiety sufferers. Despite the fact that some people can get Airport Anxiety, or travel based anxiety, travel is not always something that people with anxiety should avoid.
What does Anxiety feel like?
You might be unfortunate enough to know that feeling of anxiety. The panic attack that makes you think you are having a heart attack the first time it happens. The light-headedness. The fast heartbeat and palpitations. A state of panic is one that no-one wants to be in. However, it is important to understand the causes of anxiety, which often stem from the increasing pressures and responsibilities of everyday life.
Why do we Suffer from Anxiety?
Feelings of anxiety stem from our primal ‘fight or flight’ instincts. Of course, in a modern society, fight or flight often aren’t always an option, so the adrenaline can build up and we may remain in a state of panic for much longer than nature originally intended us to be.
The sad fact is that approximately 1 in 3 adults (UK) will experience some kind of anxiety disorder at some time in their life.
Many people’s lives are so intense that they forget how to relax. Your mind is working 10 to the dozen and basically, can’t switch off. When life feels so intense that you can’t even contemplate a happy future because there is no time for anything other than work or stress, this is when severe anxiety really kicks in.
Why is Travel Good for People Suffering from Anxiety?
It is true that some anxiety sufferers may not be able to travel because they cannot be in certain situations (airport anxiety) or crowded places. It is important to understand that anxiety is different for everybody. However, I meet a lot of people who only truly feel at ease when they are on the road. Many anxiety sufferers I know have more panic attacks at home, rather than abroad.
So, in what particular way can travel help to curb your anxiety? Is your anxiety based on a failed relationship? When you travel, you may meet new people and make new friends. You may even find romance on the road!
Is your anxiety based on financial pressures? The great thing about travel is that you have to pre-plan your budget. This forces you to be more thrifty. Provided that the bills and debts are being accounted for at home, financial pressures will then be released because you know you have a certain amount of money in cash per day to spend.
Also, if money is a stress for you, there are many places in the world where it can actually be much cheaper to live than in the UK or USA. In Asia, Thailand and Vietnam have an extremely cheap cost of living. In Europe, Serbia and Bulgaria are areas of natural beauty and historical interest that are much cheaper to live than the UK. Read my blog on How Cheap is Sofia?
Travel often prompts us to veer away from materialism. That is because when we are travelling, we are focusing on experiences and not things. We are not at home being advertised to daily via numerous different media outlets, being told what the next best thing is and why you need to get into debt to buy it!
Many people don’t realise how little we really do need to survive in the way of personal belongings. But, when you have lived out of a backpack in Asia for months on end, many personal belongings and clutter that caused you stress at home begin to seem extremely un-necessary.
I have recently started to de-clutter with the help of Kate from A Tidy Mind. Releasing yourself from unnecessary ‘stuff’ can be very liberating. Of course you will be stressed at home if you are living with a hoard like this..
How Travel Forces you to Live in the ‘NOW!’
Being in a different environment altogether when you are travelling may actually force your brain to switch off. For example, if you are hiking and seeing beautiful scenery in a place where there is no Wi-Fi or mobile phone signal, you are effectively forced to detach yourself from the instantaneous and high pressured social environment in which many of us currently exist.
Travel is about living in the now, because it is full of new experiences that we want to embrace. We therefore focus on being present, rather than worrying and the future or the past.
Amazing experiences such as architecture end new foods may distract us from our worries back at home. I am not saying that we should all be running away from our problems. But, I do agree that sometimes, a change is as good as a rest!
Do you suffer from anxiety? If so, I am interested to hear about how well you travel. Does anxiety stop you from travelling? Or do you feel that Travel is Good for Anxiety Sufferers?