Saturday, February 13, 2016

How I Curb My Anxiety When I'm Travelling

How I Curb My Anxiety When I'm Travelling


I was diagnosed with severe anxiety a few years back and, despite already knowing this, it was good to get confirmation that I wasn’t losing my mind.   People tend to not quite understand anxiety if they haven’t experienced it for themselves and often label socially anxious people as rude or anti social.   We’re not.   

We just tend to be a touch quieter than you and we don’t always feel the need to speak constantly.   We quite often prefer not speaking at all, but it’d be good if you didn’t take this as a sign that we’re horrible or ‘not your kind of person’.    

A lot of people thing that social anxiety means that you don’t want to leave the house (often true in certain situations) and therefore we’re some sort of odd, hermit-like, crazy dog ladies.    

Although this is my ambition in life, I do manage to leave the house to work on a full time basis, go shopping, running, out with friends, etc.   I just get very anxious and uncomfortable in unknown situations.   Or, when there are lot of people involved.  In small groups of people I know – I’m absolutely fine.   I’m not sure I’d be good several days in a row, but that’s a whole different story. 

How I Curb My Anxiety When I'm Travelling: Airports
Some for clothes,  others for hiding in.
When I’m asked how I cope with my travels and my anxiety, I tend to respond that the times I’m actually less stressed and anxious is WHEN I’m travelling.   This is mainly due to the fact that no one knows me, no one is judging my lack of conversation for me being some sort of deranged serial killer, and I can usually spent time on my own, out for a run in the sunshine where I can take a break from all the Peopling I do on a day to day basis and just relax.  

However, I tend to stick to a few golden rules when I’m looking at destinations and accommodation.   These are:

Does Not Travel Well With Others:
I tend to travel with LT and, well, that’s about it, really.   I also have occasion to travel with close family, but I tend not to holiday with friends as I’m just not capable of being ‘up’ all the time.  In fact, the thought of having to be on the ball for a full weekend or, heaven forbid, a WEEK, fills me with dread.  

This is primarily because people don’t understand that I need time on my own to get over all the conversation.  That, and I don’t like appearing rude and I understand that this is often how I am perceived.   A holiday is not much of a holiday when you’re stressed out, is it? 

How I Curb My Anxiety When I'm Travelling: Space
No one has passed for a month, you say?  I'll take it... 

Does Not Do Well in Airports:
I don’t like airports.   I don’t like queues and people and all the busy stuff going on.   I only go because my need to travel is greater than my fear of being stuck at an airport for an extended period of time.  

I tend to pay for a priority pass, which gets me into a lounge and away from the main bulk of travellers.  It also generally provides me with free wine and snacks and that’s clearly a saving for me right there.  The lounges tend to be more private and far less busy and this lets me do a bit of relaxing before the hell of sitting next to strangers on a flight.

Does Not Like Sitting In The Middle Seat:
I hate it.   I like to be at the window where no one will see me and no one will need to move me out of the way so that they can take endless trips to the bathroom, or to chase their children down the aisle.    The only issue with this is that I also hate annoying people to use the toilet and so once I'm strapped in, that's me.     

This does make it slightly difficult on a long haul flight, but you’d be amazed at just now much my fear of interaction with strangers restricts the natural workings of my body.   

I also have lots of reading and viewing materials, which helps keep me occupied and tends to put people off trying to spark up conversations, which I love.  Unless you have dogs.   If you have dogs, you’re more than welcome to show me photos and talk to me about them for the entire duration of the flight.   I'll be the quiet one, sitting in the window seat, trying not to make any contact.   

How I Curb My Anxiety When I'm Travelling: Hiding
I'm just gonna stay in here until it quietens down a bit.   

Does Not Do Busy Hotels:
Obviously, I’m not a hostel girl because Other People.    Due to my previous job travelling round Scotland, sleeping in different B&B beds three nights a week, I’m also not keen on serviced accommodation.   

My go-to places for researching accommodation are AirBnB and Way To Stay.  Both offer full properties in a wide range of cities around the world and this is the key to a peaceful and relaxing holiday in my eyes.   They also have a range of gorgeous houses and cottages which are located outwith the city centre and you can specify the kind of neighbourhood you want to stay in.   

My searches are usually along the lines of: ‘house wanted in location that looks like a scene from The Walking Dead, but without all the zombies...’     Oddly, I haven’t found the perfect match yet, but I’m keeping my spirits up. 

How I Curb My Anxiety When I'm Travelling: Crowds
My idea of absolute Hell. 
Does Not Vacation During Main Holiday Periods:
I almost never go on holiday during school holidays.  This is mainly because I don’t have to, but also because it means my destinations are much quieter.   When LT and I travelled through the Deep South last year, we ventured there in October/November and the roads were clear and even the highly popular attractions were slowing down for the season.    This means fewer people, less noise, no queues, and a much more relaxed traveller.


I also tend to shy away from the middle of the day for sightseeing.   I recall standing in a massive queue outside the Blue Mosque in Istanbul and getting more and more agitated with each passing minute.   By the time I got in, I was quite anxious and just wanted to get back out, which kind of spoils the whole experience.   

Due to this, I do tend to keep away from main sightseeing times or, I have been known to miss out attractions completely.    Who really needs to climb the Eiffel Tower, anyway?  Not this panicky lass, that's for sure.     

I'll be over on the grass, breathing into a paper bag,  wondering how much flights to the Moon are in January.  

  
Suzanne x