The pandemic, travel and anxiety

Back July 9th, 2021

As the easing of lockdown continues, many of us are now looking forward to a much-needed holiday, and while travel is slowly returning to normal, lots of us are still hesitant about going away again.

The thought of travelling to unfamiliar places and the complex rules surrounding overseas travel may be deterring you from planning a holiday and also causing additional stress and anxiety.

Because of this, we thought it would be helpful to  put together a few tips and suggestions including support re finding find own staycation, (whether that be in your own garden, town, country) through to venturing overseas. Along with the tips below, we also have  online anxiety support groups that offer a safe space for people to share experiences, fears and worries with others in a supportive environment. They provide an opportunity to enable you to find ways to manage anxiety, stress and/or anxiety-based depression through sharing coping strategies with other group members, and provide a useful additional forum for sharing travel-related anxieties.

Top tips:

  • Travel somewhere familiar – by travelling to somewhere that you already know and have been before, this eliminates the ‘unknown’ of a place and the stresses of finding your way around a new destination, leaving more time for rest and relaxation.
  • Travel somewhere that will allow you to reconnect with nature – it has been identified that spending time outdoors in nature can help with anxiety. There are many beautiful destinations around the world, however, if you’re not ready to venture overseas just yet, why not choose a holiday that allows you to reconnect with nature in the UK in our glorious countryside and wonderful national parks. In addition, why not take a look at Anxiety UK’s ‘Connect with Nature Resource Booklet’ where our staff share their tips on how you can reconnect with nature: https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/products/free-resources/mental-health-awareness-week-2021/
  • Travel with close family/friends – if you are eager to travel, perhaps you could travel with those around you that are able to offer you support. After the many months of not being able to see family and friends due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a chance to take time out to relax with your nearest and dearest may be just what is needed.
  • Prepare yourself and do your research – if you are visiting somewhere new, try to watch videos and use maps to familiarise yourself with your destination. Write lists to ensure you have packed everything that you require and make sure that if you are anxious about language barriers or getting lost, you prepare for this by taking a phrase book, downloading a translation app along with taking a map or writing down directions.
  • Find the positives in travel – travel allows you to disconnect and recharge along with exposing you to new things and experiences. In addition, elements of travel may be stressful, however, travel can also help to relieve stress and anxiety. By highlighting the positives in travelling, you may find that this helps to reduce some of the anxiety associated with it.
  • Create your own tropical island in your garden – if you don’t feel comfortable travelling too far from your home, why not create your own tropical island in your own garden/home. Take some time out to plant some colourful flowers in your garden, listen to your favourite music and picture yourself in your favourite place, all in the comfort of your own home.
  • Travel distractions – if the act of travelling rather than the destination and being away from home is causing anxiety, ensure that you take plenty of distractions. Colouring books, music, films or word searches can be used to pass the time and may help reduce stress.
  • Airport/Flying Stress– as previously mentioned, some elements of travel can be stressful and for you, airports or flying may be one of those. By arriving at the airport early, it allows you to familiarise yourself with the area and allows plenty of time to check in, drop your baggage and then to find your gate or even take time to relax in a café before your flight.

You may also have a fear of flying; if so ensure that you have distractions for the duration of your flight. Try deep breathing exercises, watch your favourite film, read your favourite book or take a photo of your destination to help ease your mind and focus on the positive element of your trip. In addition, we have resources available that may help you with your fear of flying such as CDs, books and factsheets.

Our online therapist-led, structured anxiety management courses may also be helpful as these provide participants with information and strategies to manage anxiety. For more information please see: https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/get-help/anxiety-uk-courses-and-groups/

  • Ensure you have up to date information – with the guidelines constantly changing, ensure you are up to date with the most recent government guidelines to identify where you can travel and the rules associated with travelling.

For more details about the support and help available from Anxiety UK, visit our ‘Get Help’ section here https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/get-help/