Traveling With Anxiety

woman traveling on train blurred view

Mental illnesses like anxiety disorders often hold us back from living life to its full potential. For many people, traveling is a dream. Who doesn’t want to see the world, explore new arts and cultures, and try native foods?

Anxiety is a naggy voice in our heads that loves to tell us what we can’t do. It creates scenarios in our mind, generating “what-ifs” that make us scared to live our daily lives, let alone venture out of our comfort zone.

Once your own voice overpowers the nagging, anxious one and you decide to take the plunge and travel, well, it’s expected that a little anxiety will kick in. Even people without anxiety often feel anxious when they’ve got a flight approaching.

As a very anxious person who just returned from a month-long Euro-trip, I have a lot of knowledge to share that can help, no matter where you’re traveling to, or for how long. Never in a million years did I think that I could travel successfully without having a nervous breakdown. These tips will help calm your nerves weeks before departure through the day you land back home. Continue reading Traveling With Anxiety

3 Tips for Sober Travel While in Addiction Recovery

Woman on phone traveling

Most addiction recovery programs tell you it is not only OK to seek out help; it’s mandatory. Recovery is tough, and it’s extremely hard to do it all on your own. Even during relaxing times, you might need help staying sober. If you’re looking to plan a vacation that’s both rewarding and celebratory of your newfound sobriety, it’s important to know how to help yourself avoid the pitfalls of venturing away from your comfort zone.

Keep reading for three tips to help you do just that:

Continue reading 3 Tips for Sober Travel While in Addiction Recovery

Unboxing the Realities of Moving with Anxiety

woman moving box

I’ve always tended to romanticize the thought of moving away. Once I shed my hometown, I would finally become someone who never forgets to floss and sleeps precisely eight hours a night in crisp white linens. Making the big move is an ideal time to introduce other changes in your life too, but you can’t move away from yourself. Or your anxiety. After the move, I might have become slightly more committed to my oral hygiene, but my Persian cat’s weepy eyes still constantly left mysterious beige spots on my cotton sheets.

Perhaps, like me, the idea of starting over somewhere new is your go-to escapist daydream. As the realities of moving set in, however, it can become difficult to keep your anxiety in-check.

Before setting off I tried to deal with the less romantic realities. Pondering housing, thinking about relationships, and coping with these changing elements of my life gave me somewhere to focus my anxiety. I reasoned that this focus would help me identify everything that could potentially go wrong and eliminate the risks. This strategy, however, kept me from acknowledging I was doing something brave and that the risk was part of what made the experience exciting, too. Continue reading Unboxing the Realities of Moving with Anxiety

How I Overcame Depression And Traveled To My Bucket List Destinations

depressed man traveling head in hand

I always wanted to travel. In college I attended information sessions in stuffy rooms and echoing lecture halls, for at least five different study abroad programs. I dutifully filled out the paperwork, scheduled doctor’s appointments, even met with the other folks I’d be spending time abroad with. It was exciting. But something always held me back.

My depression.

When it came time to actually book the flight, things started to break down. To picture myself trying to make a tight connection, rebook a flight, overcome jet lag, suffer homesickness, not able to speak the language? It was paralyzing. I felt myself spinning into that familiar, desperate cycle of blaming myself for not being able to do the things I dreamed of and not being able to do the things I dreamed of because of my depression. Each application deadline — Prague, London, Paris, Cádiz, Perth — that passed would send me back to bed, missing classes, ignoring friends, and feeling miserable. Continue reading How I Overcame Depression And Traveled To My Bucket List Destinations

How to Care for Your Mental Health on Vacation

woman backpacking mountains

It sounds weird to think we need to pay attention to our mental health while on vacation. After all, there’s plenty of evidence showing vacations improve our mental health.

But when you go on vacation, you leave behind the comfort of a familiar environment, the support of a therapist, and the consistency of a routine. A vacation can actually trigger mental illness symptom flare ups, whether you’re traveling alone or with friends or family.

Here are some strategies you can use to stay mentally healthy on your next trip:

Take Care of Your Body

Exercise helps stave off mental illness symptoms. But it can be hard to make time for it while you’re on vacation.

If going to the gym is part of your normal routine, you can drop in to your hotel gym. Or if you belong to a chain gym, there are likely facilities all over the country you may be able to access for no extra fee.

The point isn’t to miss out on all the fun because you have to hit the gym, though. You can incorporate fitness into your vacation in more subtle ways, like by taking long walks through a new city or along the beach. The key is to stay moving. Continue reading How to Care for Your Mental Health on Vacation

Talkspace Online Therapy is the #1 Tool for Travelers With Depression

depressed man airport red suitcase

I always wanted to travel. In college I attended information sessions in stuffy rooms and echoing lecture halls, for at least five different study abroad programs. I dutifully filled out the paperwork, scheduled doctor’s appointments, even met with the other folks I’d be spending time abroad with. It was exciting. But something always held me back.

My depression.

Traveling opens our minds and keeps us young. Women who vacation every two years have a significantly lower risk of heart attack than women who vacation only ever six years. Men who don’t take an annual vacation have a 20% higher risk of death (30% higher risk of heart disease). However, for those of us with depression, travel can pose many challenges or even make it impossible.

Immersing yourself in an unfamiliar culture –– and actually getting there –– can be challenging. Between long flights and layovers, short connections, cancellations, not understanding the language, being unfamiliar with the cuisine, uncomfortable sleeping arrangements, altitude changes…there are many variables that can pose issues even for the most seasoned traveler among us. Layering in mental illness can exacerbate these situations.

Just because traveling guarantees a disruption of your normal schedule and poses a variety of potential challenges, does not mean you have to abandon your travel plans, give up exploring new areas, or forego trips to visit those you love. There are ways for all of us with mental illness to maintain our mental wellness, while hitting the road. Continue reading Talkspace Online Therapy is the #1 Tool for Travelers With Depression

Online Therapy is the #1 Tool for Travelers With Depression

depressed man airport red suitcase

I always wanted to travel. In college I attended information sessions in stuffy rooms and echoing lecture halls, for at least five different study abroad programs. I dutifully filled out the paperwork, scheduled doctor’s appointments, even met with the other folks I’d be spending time abroad with. It was exciting. But something always held me back.

My depression.

Traveling opens our minds and keeps us young. Women who vacation every two years have a significantly lower risk of heart attack than women who vacation only ever six years. Men who don’t take an annual vacation have a 20% higher risk of death (30% higher risk of heart disease). However, for those of us with depression, travel can pose many challenges or even make it impossible.

Immersing yourself in an unfamiliar culture –– and actually getting there –– can be challenging. Between long flights and layovers, short connections, cancellations, not understanding the language, being unfamiliar with the cuisine, uncomfortable sleeping arrangements, altitude changes…there are many variables that can pose issues even for the most seasoned traveler among us. Layering in mental illness can exacerbate these situations.

Just because traveling guarantees a disruption of your normal schedule and poses a variety of potential challenges, does not mean you have to abandon your travel plans, give up exploring new areas, or forego trips to visit those you love. There are ways for all of us with mental illness to maintain our mental wellness, while hitting the road. Continue reading Online Therapy is the #1 Tool for Travelers With Depression

Traveling with Depression: How I Should Have Prepared

woman backpack mountain

Mental health can be a journey. Journeying while struggling with mental health challenges, however, can be almost impossible.

In 2015 I traveled to Puno, Peru, to work on a research project as a part of my graduate degree in international public health. Before enrolling in the degree program, I had spent the better part of the previous two years traveling and living abroad in some capacity and was excited to have the opportunity to travel as a part of my career.

As my departure date to Peru creeped closer, I started seeing a therapist at the university health center to talk about concerns I had about traveling. I had experienced acute depression that year for the first time and was nervous it would creep back in while I was in a low-resource setting abroad. My in-person therapist told me many students feel this way before completing fieldwork abroad and I would be fine to push through.

I didn’t want my fears around my mental health to stop me from traveling. I wanted to be “strong.” So off I flew to Puno. Continue reading Traveling with Depression: How I Should Have Prepared

4 Unexpected Lessons In Personal Growth, On Vacation

4 Unexpected Lesson In Personal Growth, On Vacation

Sometimes, personal growth happens when you least expect it.

While on vacation, most of us are excited about the adventures we’re having; we’re not always looking to learn life lessons while we travel. In recent years, my husband and I took up hiking as an outdoor hobby. We are not “avid” hikers, but we enjoy it and tend to plan our vacations around opportunities to hike where we can encounter natural breath-taking views. However, one trip in particular stands out because it taught me 4 lessons about personal growth, and I want to share them with you. Continue reading 4 Unexpected Lessons In Personal Growth, On Vacation