It’s summer and that means vacation time. Many of us will be heading off to the beach, to the mountains, to cities to explore nightlife, to countries we have never seen. Vacations are a time to relax, sleep late, indulge for a few days, forget your daily stresses and to explore new experiences. It is a time for fun and for deepening our relationships with our traveling companions.
While vacations take you away from your everyday stress, they also create their own stress. The planning, budgeting, packing and finding activities to keep everyone happy can cause you to worry about your upcoming vacation. Vacations are, by their very nature, a "change from the ordinary," but that can also mean your internal clock is off, daily routines are interrupted and the things and places you find comforting are suddenly not there.
But vacations don’t need to be stressful and can give you much needed time away from work and daily life. A successful vacation can leave you feeling invigorating and ready to face new challenges. If you have anxiety or stress frequently puts a crimp into your vacation, the following tips can help:
- Use a folder to hold all your vacation information. As soon as you decide you will take a vacation, purchase a folder to keep information in one place. Use it to hold receipts, information and general information on where you will be staying. As your plans progress, add any information to your folder so you can easily find what you need.
Plan ahead. If you worry about things like getting lost or whether or not you will find an open hotel room, it is probably best to make your plans weeks or months in advance. Decide where you are going and where you will be staying; make reservations at any hotels. Place copies of receipts and reservations in your vacation folder.
- Decide what you want to do while on vacation. If your family is coming, ask what types of activities they would like to do and try to plan events so everyone gets to spend a little time doing something they enjoy. Check into each activity to find out if you need to make reservations beforehand.
- Plan some down time. It is good to keep busy during vacation but make sure you also plan some down time, when you and your family can enjoy simply being together.
- Keep some routines from your daily life to help make your feel secure. You may want to start each day with the same breakfast you usually eat or spend time each evening doing a crossword puzzle. You might want to bring your favorite coffee or tea or pack your favorite pillow and blanket. If you have certain routines you follow at home, keeping a couple of those during vacation can be like your "safety net" and keep anxiety minimized.
- Talk about your feelings of anxiety. Think about what types of situations may increase your anxiety and write them down. Talk with your spouse or vacation companion to make them aware of what to expect and ask them to be willing to listen if you begin to panic or feel nervous. If there are certain situations that make you anxious, ask your traveling companion to take care of those details.
- Use deep breathing or daily meditation to keep your anxiety at bay. Taking a few minutes each day to calm your mind and body can help reduce overall feelings of anxiety. Schedule time each day throughout your vacation to meditate or sit calmly to clear your mind.
For more information on coping with anxiety when on vacation:
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.