10 tips for keeping your anxiety at bay whilst on holiday

Summer is here. Time to escape from the humdrum of daily life, embrace new things and go somewhere exciting. But, wait a minute, who is that unwanted castaway hitching a ride? Your anxiety?

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It’s quite likely that if you are prone to anxiety, knowing that you are heading for a change of routine and new things, those anxious feelings will be coming along for the ride. So at least let’s try to keep it on the back seat and away from the steering wheel, whilst you are trying to enjoy your vacation.


1. Drop the "my"

Referring to the way you feel as "my anxiety" will not help it pass. Unfortunately, it is likely to increase the chance of anxiety sticking around. Our mind naturally creates a strong bond to things prefixed with the word "my". By calling something my we take ownership over it, my dog, my mum, my house, etc. these are all lovely things to be associated with. Therefore, our subconscious mind will generally increase attachment to these things.

So, why not try exchanging a simple word like "my" and simply referring to it as "the anxiety" or the "anxious thought that I'm having", is much healthier. It sounds simple, but this little hack could mean that the anxiety you so need a break from, is much less likely to get packed up in your suitcase with your sunnies, SPF, and beachwear!


2. Choose change 

We all love the change of routine that a holiday brings, getting away from the humdrum of life. However, the problem is, for those of us with anxious minds, change, and a 'lack of what is familiar' might tend to increase anxiety.

Change often causes hypervigilance but knowing this you'll be prepared. Our ancient/primitive brain likes things the same, it's safe… but as more advanced primitives, we kinda get bored easily and like variety, so holidays are great for us! And doing things that are different and challenging will strengthen our resilience.

So how can we help this tendency to want to stay with what is familiar? You tell yourself that you are choosing what is different and uncomfortable because you love it. It's surprising what a firm word with the subconscious mind will do! And remember this is not just positive thinking: be specific and have a real strong dialogue with your mind telling yourself you will love the new experience and it's what you are choosing to do. But I am choosing to do different things and go different places because it's great for me, and I love it!


3. Be a thought spotter

Observe your thoughts, try to do so without judgement, with curiosity and acceptance, practising something known as "cognitive defusion". If you can become aware that a thought is only a thought, you will often find, that it loses its power. Negative thoughts become powerful and overwhelming when they have a feeling attached to them.

The aim is to "defuse" the feeling and thought. We can help this separation process simply by acknowledging the thought and saying 'I'm having an anxious thought or I'm having a worrying thought...' so that with curiosity, compassion, and most importantly without judgement you acknowledge the thought, and just let it float past you.

 You can try putting a prefix before the worrying thought that you're having, the exercise of cognitive defusion involves separating the feeling from the thought.

Often people find an image useful to aid the visualisation of the thought floating away. Why not use one of your beautiful holiday images of clouds floating past, in a blue sky, or waves on a beach.


4. Flying high

Flying is a fascinating opportunity just to observe your thought process. Most people who worry about flying are worried about the out-of-control feeling.

Logically, they know that statistically, the most dangerous part of the journey is getting to the airport. However, notice how your mind is used to that part of the journey because travelling by car is familiar, and flying is less familiar. And our minds prefer what is familiar because it feels safe.

Look around at the toddlers on the plane or small children, they are never afraid, we are not born with a fear of flying, we learn it. And remember if we learn it, we can unlearn it. So you might ask yourself where your fear of flying comes from. If it is generalised anxiety, then it is a good time to get distracted and use some of these other tips.

When the cabin crew reads out the safety advice it is always good to take this as a reminder for good self-care. The advice, for example with oxygen masks, is to always help yourself before helping others. So many of my clients feel guilty about treating themselves and practising good self-care… but it's a vital part of general wellbeing. It is excellent that the cabin crew should remind us of this as we are about to go and indulge ourselves on holiday. You deserve this holiday, and it is important you find joy, laughter, relaxation, and joy so that you come back fully refreshed and rejuvenated.


5. Watch the coffee

Being out of our routine may mean that we are prone to drink a little more coffee and wine than we do at home. This is all part of the holiday experience and for many a must. But just be a little mindful if it starts to have a negative impact on you. Increased alcohol consumption might prevent you from a good night’s sleep. And the coffee on holiday might be stronger than you're used to. High caffeine levels can lead to palpitations ..and may well increase anxiety levels too.


6. Visualisation is a great tool

If you have a tendency towards anxiety, you will already be great at visualising but, of course, you will tend to visualise thinking the worst-case scenario. Now it is time to use this tool for your greater good. imagine before the event this worrying you, everything goes as well as it possibly could. Try to imagine this scene in as much detail as possible using all your senses.

You can even begin your day like this. When you clean your teeth in the morning or have a shower, start with a great intention. For example, the intention to: have fun, explore, be adventurous, be loving and be kind to yourself. And then imagine the activities that you have planned for the day, imagine yourself embodying your intention doing these activities imagine this in detail.

Remind yourself always, that if you feel uncomfortable at any point during the day this is something that you will just get through and this too will pass, and all will be well.


7. Anxious first aid kit

When you pack your bags for a holiday be sure to remind yourself that you have also packed your worrying thoughts first aid kit too! In the same way, we feel a little safer if we know that we have a hand plaster/band-aid if we cut ourselves. It's great to know that we have a "go-to " kit of things that we know will help (favourite happy playlist, calming aromatherapy smell, breathing techniques, ‘Havening’ techniques, swishing cold water around your mouth).


8. Acknowledge your progress!

Keep a log/diary of all the new things you did whilst you were away. Remember this is all making you stronger and adding to your awesome array of coping skills. When you get home, you will love re-reading the holiday log and reminding yourself that you really are far more courageous than you think.


9. You got this; you want this!  

What are your favourite affirmations? Think of a couple that supports change and resilience and repeat them often. Our minds learn by repetition, so it is important to make these affirmations familiar before you go.


10. Seek and you shall find 

Remember, our subconscious minds work hard to find confirmation of pre-existing beliefs. It’s like a massive google search; if you look hard enough, you will always find what you're looking for. Seek "scary", and you'll find it, look for joy and you'll be sure to find it around every corner… you're on holiday! So, enjoy yourself, make memories, and have a wonderful holiday!

Life Coach Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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London NW3 & Gloucester GL1
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Written by Sal Jennings, Transformative Life Coach & EFT Practitioner
London NW3 & Gloucester GL1

Sal Jennings, Life Coach and Therapist at Clarity Life Coaching

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