Spring break season is upon us, and summer is quickly approaching. With the promise of warmer weather comes the tantalizing dream of getting away for a few days on a sun-soaked vacation. However, the allure of seasonal travel hides the reality that going on vacation is never as simple as the commercials make it seem, especially for those that struggle with chronic anxiety or depression.
The idea of going on vacation may leave you with questions. Is it safe to go on a trip that keeps you away from your regular support group? Can you cope with the changes in your routine that travel will cause? Let's look at some of the ways that traveling can trigger anxiety and depression, and look at what you can do to ensure you experience the best trip possible, no matter what.
Traveling Is Stressful For Everyone
As much as we all go on vacation to get away from the stress of our daily lives, there's no denying that the process of traveling comes with its own set of difficulties. Leaving your daily routine to travel is full of uncertainties for everyone, but the things that stress one person out might have little effect on another, meaning that the pressure of catching flights, navigating an unfamiliar city or trying to speak a new language might heighten your stress levels to the point that your anxiety or depression might become worse.
For this reason, if you know that you're susceptible to anxiety attacks or are familiar with days when getting out of bed feels like too much effort, it's important to take some extra planning steps before leaving on your vacation to ensure you stay healthy and happy.
If this sounds like you, here are some important considerations you should make for your health before starting your trip.
Dealing With Depression
When you suffer from depression, it can quickly take over much of your life. You don't have to let it control your travel dreams too. About eight percent of Canadians experience bouts of depression throughout their lives, but there is plenty you can do to keep it from compromising your trip. Below are some tips that will help you keep your spirits high while traveling to prevent a depressive mood from settling in.
- Travel during the day: Depressed people often find it hard to motivate themselves in the mornings and evening, so plan your trips during the daylight hours as much as possible. Not only does this match your body's natural rhythms, it also helps you adjust better to time zone differences.
- Stay away from excessive alcohol: Nothing can wreck your travel mood more than overdoing it on alcohol, especially if you mix your booze with anti-depression meds. Work hard to moderate yourself, and you'll feel better throughout your trip.
- Be realistic about your energy levels: If If you've been struggling to find the energy to get out of bed at home, don't book a busy trip that never allows time for a break. Instead, keep your schedule manageable and focus on living in the moment. You'll get the recharge you need without pushing yourself beyond what you can handle.
- Stay on a routine: Routine is essential for staying healthy, but traveling can quickly throw your daily schedule out of whack. If you struggle with depression you need to go the extra step to keep their routines as functional as possible. Make sure you bring all your medications with you, and set alerts on your phone to remind you to take them at your normal time.
- Bring enough medicine with you: Careful planning beforehand will prevent you from experiencing an antidepressant shortage later on. Make sure to bring all the medication you need beforehand and have a letter on you from your doctor explaining that you need it for medicinal reasons. This will make it easier to get through security.
Coping With Chronic Anxiety
While travel can be a stressful experience for just about anyone, it can be positively paralyzing for those that suffer from chronic anxiety. Roughly twenty five percent of Canadians will suffer from an anxiety disorder during their lifetime, and many people allow it to control what they can do. You don't need to live like this. It's more than possible to enjoy a trip if even the idea of stepping on a plane fills you with dread, but you'll need to take some important steps to keep your anxiety under control.
- Visualize Your Trip Beforehand: If the idea of navigating an unfamiliar city leaves you in a panic, take the time to think through every step of the process before you even leave. This creates circuits in your brain that it will rely on during the real time, making it a less stressful experience in the long run.
- Practice Breathing: It's easy to start hyperventilating without even realizing it, so work to keep your anxiety under control by taking slow, deep breathes every time you feel your pulse start to quicken.
- Pay For Stress-Reducing Services: No need to feel guilty if you opt for a fancier hotel or fast track passes to get to the front of lines; any money that you spend to reduce your travel anxiety is money well spent. Opting for a massage or exercise class is also a great idea.
- Bring Your Comfort Clothes: Looking classy while traveling is overrated. Instead pack your favorite pair of sweats and the big blanket that always keeps you feeling safe. Not only will you stay more comfortable on the trip, you won't have the pressure of putting an outfit together.
In Summary: Seek the Guidance of a Professional
Everyone can benefit from a break away from their daily lives, and you shouldn't let your concerns about depression or anxiety keep you from taking the trip you crave. These common conditions are no reason to not take a vacation, so long as you carefully plan out a strategy for staying healthy.
Before you make your travel plans, it's always smart to talk with your mental health care provider to get tips and advice. If you live in the New Westminster and Surrey, BC area, I am more than happy to meet with you and discuss some health solutions for traveling. To learn more about Follow Your Own Star Counseling or to schedule an appointment, you can get in touch at http://www.followyourownstarcounselling.com/contact/.