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Tips for Traveling with Anxiety- Trip # 4

Posted May 22 2009 5:49pm
If you have read the blog for awhile, you know that I get extremely anxious about traveling. I didn't use to be this way but after a few trips where I was panic stricken the whole time I have developed anticipatory anxiety about vacations. How sad, I know, since vacations are supposed to be a relaxing getaway.

This Memorial Day Weekend we have a cousins reunion in St. George which is about 3-4 hours away from home. I know that I shouldn't be anxious about the trip but it has really been stressing me out. We will be gone for about two days. We have never been away from home with the baby for that long.

So learning from my previous setbacks, I know that success will greatly increase for me if I properly prepare ahead of time. Preparing means following my 10 step Mental Exercise, but here is a shorter version:

  1. Writing out all of my fears no matter how silly or absurd they may sound.
  2. Writing out a gameplan for what will happen in the worst case scenario.
  3. Writing out positive affirmations to counter my fears.
  4. Print out the post and keep it in my wallet where I can access it whenever I need to. I plan to pull it out every morning and reread it for reinforcement.

This worked well for me on my last trip to Vegas so I hope it will work again.

Ok so here goes:

What am I telling myself to make me feel this way?

  • What if I am anxious the whole time? I will ruin the trip for Tyler and all the cousins and my aunt will think I am weird.
  • Trips make me anxious. I should be nervous about this trip.
  • What if I can't eat anything and I offend the cook?
  • What if people want to go do something and I am feeling too sick?
  • What if the baby has a hard time on the car ride down or sleeping and she is miserable?
As I am writing these out I am noticing that most of them are "What if" statements which is the type of negative self talk that promotes anxiety, especially anticipatory anxiety. This type of self talk is the one that plagues me the most. Edmund J. Bourne says,

"...the Worrier's dominant tendencies include 1) anticipating the worst, 2) overestimating the odds of something bad or embarrassing happening, and 3) creating grandiose images of potential failure or catastrophe. The Worrier is always vigilant, watching with uneasy apprehension for any small symptoms or signs of trouble."

He also says the best coping strategy for dealing with the Worrier is by writing out positive coping statements.

  • What if I am anxious the whole time? I will ruin the trip for Tyler and all the cousins and my aunt will think I am weird.
Circumstances are what they are but I can choose my attitude toward them. I can be anxious and still have fun on this trip. I've done it before and I can do it again. I can handle this. Tyler loves me more than this trip. I love and accept myself the way I am.I respect and believe in myself apart from other's opinions.
  • Trips make me anxious. I should be nervous about this trip.
This is overgeneralizing. Just because I have been anxious on trips in the past that doesn't set in stone that I will be anxious on this trip. I am learning to be calm. I'm responsible and in control of my life.
  • What if I can't eat anything and I offend the cook?
If I explain to the cook that I have not been feeling well and I don't have an appetite they will most likely understand. And if they don't, so what! I only have to eat for myself. It's important to take care of my own needs. I respect and believe in myself apart from others' opinions.
  • What if people want to go do something and I am feeling too sick?
If I am not feeling well be honest and they will most likely understand. And if they don't, so what! You are here to have fun and not to please everyone else. Do what you want to do. It's important to take care of my own needs. Its ok to make time to rest and relax.I am willing to go forward with my life and try to better myself regardless of what others think.
  • What if the baby has a hard time on the car ride down or sleeping and she is miserable?
If she is really struggling we can always come home. We can take rest stops and get her out and play.


What if the worst case scenario happened?

If the worst case scenario happened and I was severly anxious, I could take deep breaths and if needed, a clonazepam to help take the worst of it away. If I am still really anxious I could leave the room, collect my thoughts by reading my positive affirmations and taking deep breaths, and return when I feel better. If it won't go away and I am miserable, we could always come home.


Preparing like this may seem time consuming but for me, just knowing that I have a plan in place helps to subside those what if feelings because now I know what I will do if it happens.

We are leaving tonight or in the morning. I will let you know how it goes!
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