**Note: This was written the week prior to our vacation and due to the busy nature of the week was never quite completed. I put too much work into it to not post it though! So enjoy nonetheless.**
As I mentioned in my last post, I suffer from some travel anxiety. Growing up I would always be sick before a trip, my mind filled with stress and fear. I turned to obsessive list making, packing & re-packing, and many nights spent laying awake as I got older. Now that I’m an adult, living on my own, making most of my own decisions a lot of my anxiety has faded. Most of this is due to my need to be in control of a situation which I didn’t really have as a kid headed on a family road-trip or to church camp. I have embraced the fact that if I forget something I can always head to Walmart or Target and buy it! It’s nice to be in control of your travels (along with Husband who is super understanding).
However, this time around it’s not quite so easy. I’m going somewhere that Target isn’t a mile away, I won’t have access to buy much that I forget, and the things I need to bring are rather extensive.
Que the return of travel anxiety.
I’m almost embarrassed to admit the number of lists I have made in the past few weeks (Over 20, at least), or the times I’ve had to just sit and try to breathe and stop my brain for just a minute. It’s been rough. I’m anxious and scared and excited all at the same time. As my prep time comes to a close this week I have really put into action a few things to help manage my stress and anxiety. Please realize, this isn’t an official cure all or anything, but it has certainly helped me and maybe it can help you too!
1. Cut Out the Unnecessary – Is there a certain aspect of planning/traveling that is making things more difficult? Maybe something you wanted to do, but isn’t totally necessary? If it’s not necessary, forget about it. We had made a certain plan that might have saved us a little headache, but was instead causing me major stress. So we changed our plan and I feel so much better now.
2. Make a List (or 3) – There is a good and bad side to lists. The good: organization, being able to see what needs to be done, motivation to check things off, & getting all of the craziness in your head out on paper. The bad: Spending more time making meticulous lists than actually accomplishing things (MEEEEEEE. I’m guilty guilty guilty). So make a list or two, but keep it under control and make sure you actually cross things off of that list.
3. Simplify – Really, this goes hand in hand with the last two. Make your lists simple, make your travel plans simple, make your packing simple, and basically make every aspect of your life as simple as you can for as long as you need to. This will look different for everyone, but for me it looks like simple meals for dinner (including eating out some, I have to keep the kitchen clean!), and simplifying my packing list (No, I don’t need to take ALL my jewelry on vacation).
4. Use Time Wisely – I will be the first to admit it, I struggle with time management. I try my best, and then before I know it I’ve wasted 4 hours and only gotten one thing done. I recently downloaded an app called Pomodoro that has helped me quite a bit! Apparently, it’s a whole productivity technique, but I really just focus on the main point. Work 25 minutes (ish) without distractions, then take a little break and repeat. If you struggle with managing your time, then I totally suggest downloading this app!
5. Make Time for You – This could alternately be named, Let Yourself Recover. Preparing to travel is no easy task, especially if you struggle with anxious thoughts or feelings. You are going to be busy but it’s incredibly important to leave yourself a little time to breathe, bonus points if it’s something particularly relaxing! For me, writing this blog post was a big one. I had all these thoughts in my head and it’s always great to write it all down. Additionally, I have a pedicure on my to-do list for later this week which is my favorite stress reliever! Last but not least, I always take some time with Husband before the night is over to just chill.
6. Prayer & Quiet Time – Last, but certainly not least is taking some time to get alone with Jesus and share your heart with Him. This is no new idea and something you’ve heard a million times before, but truly take some time with Him, review the truths in His word, and dwell on those things. In the end, he truly is the Comforter and he directs each step of our lives. Does it get any better than that?
What are your tried and true ways to reduce stress and anxiety during stressful times? Have you tried any of these before? I would love to hear your thoughts!