Are you planning the perfect relaxing vacation? Are you looking forward to some much-needed rest and relaxation? Do you envision sitting by the pool or the ocean, feeling peaceful? Have you had this vision before, only to be overcome with anxiety over your trip, or focusing on everything that can go wrong during your vacation?
Vacations are time away from work and daily responsibilities. They are supposed to be fun and enjoyable. They are supposed to renew and rejuvenate you. But unfortunately, your anxiety doesn’t always cooperate. Instead, it comes with you, packed inside your suitcase. Despite telling yourself to stop, you worry over every detail about whether your family is having a good time, whether your children are okay when they’re off on their own, whether you have enough money, whether your pets at home are alright.
No matter how many times you tell yourself to stop worrying and relax, you can’t. Anxiety threatens to ruin your week of bliss.
These five tips can help you reduce and manage your anxiety while on vacation.
**Bring something comforting from home. **Think about what you do and where you go when anxiety takes over at home. Do you retreat to a safe space? Do you find comfort in a special blanket, a pillow or another item? Do you sit and listen to calming music? Write in a journal? Whatever you do at home, bring a piece of that on vacation. You might use an app for relaxation, or bring along your favorite mug and special tea. Having your comfort items with you can help you feel more in control and better able to handle the stress.
**Plan some down time. **You might want to fill every day of your vacation with fun or exciting activities, but remember to plan some down time as well. Vacations are great times to sit and do nothing, read a book or listen to music. Plan at least an hour each day for quiet activities where everyone can recharge.
Eat right. When going to the beach, eating pizza and ice cream along the boardwalk can be a fun part of the experience. But a week of consuming junk food can take its toll. If you have the ability to prepare your own meals, plan so you and your family are eating healthy most of the week. That way, the occasional ice cream or pizza isn’t going to hurt. If you aren’t preparing your own meals, take time before the vacation to check out local restaurants and choose those with healthy options. That can help keep you from being tempted to grab unhealthy junk food all week.
Be your own friend. It’s easy to fall into the pattern of being anxious and then feeling guilty for not creating the perfect vacation. Think of yourself as your best friend. What would you say if your friend was in your position? Practice self-compassion and give yourself the advice you would give a friend.
Stop and be thankful. Start each morning with a thought of gratitude. Write down one or two things you are thankful for in your life and on your vacation. End your day the same way. Expressing gratitude can change your entire outlook on the upcoming day.
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.