On my global travels I have learned that travellers tend to fall into one of three categories when it comes to planning trips. Those who are completely laid back and plan things as they decide to do them, those who have a rough plan of what they are going to each day and those that do thoroughly research the locations they go to, book advance tickets, know how long each activity will take, how to get to the next, where some good food places are, etc etc….
While I completely accept the fact that I am a planner and enjoy it, recent trips have got me thinking that it would be nice to kick back and I don’t know…RELAX during my time away. Sometimes it seems we are all so preoccupied with seeing the tourist attractions and experiencing so much, that we forget to actually enjoy the break we are giving ourselves.
When I stopped and thought about it I realised that the planning of trips was in my mind, giving me an extra feeling of security. As someone that suffers from anxiety, it made natural sense in my mind. The chance of something going wrong was surely not so great with some well made plans then just wandering around winging it. Or was it?
Lately I have made the decision to throw my planner brain out of the aeroplane window and to my happy surprise, found a whole new type of freedom. I’m not completely in the chill travel zone yet, but I am enjoying more spontaneity and the fun of finding unexpected sights while I explore at a more relaxed pace. So how can we make that switch from crazy planner to laid back happiness? Here I share some of the ways I found to help me beat the anxiety bug while on the move.
Slow it down – Diving down the mindfulness vein, the trick of slowing a task down and focusing on the detail is a simple way to calm yourself. Taking even 2 minutes to stop and pay attention to a task can give you the desired effect. It can be anything, making a morning coffee, brushing your hair, listening to sounds in a garden, all you are doing is noticing these sensations around you.
Here is my favourite trick for beginners – go to a park or beach, sit down somewhere and close your eyes. Now work your way through your senses, what can you hear, what can you smell, what can you taste in your mouth, what can you feel around your body and lastly open your eyes and look around. Try to pick out details – so with listening in a park, you might hear birds, tree leaves, children playing, cars on surrounding roads. By focusing on each sense in turn, the body and mind naturally quietens in tune.
I was super surprised by the results on this one, so don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!
Push yourself a little but rest comfortably in between – A little adrenalin is good, but constant triggers from being out of your comfort zone over large amounts of time will wear you out more. Do something daring for you, (everyone has their own version of daring), and then give yourself some recovery time. The more you flex and relax in this way, the more you will be able to handle over time.
Build yourself a tool kit – Have a go-to list of things that give you that sense of comfort and ease those anxious feelings. Listening to music, yoga, reading, sleep meditations, adult colouring books are flying off the shelves at the moment. You can make your kit as portable as you like with phone apps and services like Kindle unlimited. I personally love this one for its ability to borrow 10 reads at once and the free range of magazines you can read each week including travel ones like Lonely Planet and Coast, yay!
Choose your top three – Pick a maximum of three places of interest that you really have to see and take your time to visit them properly. That way you have time to relax and appreciate the sights of each attraction. Plus, if an unexpected day trip or sightseeing tour crops up you will have the time to book it in as a bonus extra!
Plan ahead – This point may seem counter-productive, but for some of the popular attractions it is important to plan a little ahead of time. If you know somewhere is likely to be busy, minimise disappointment by booking advance tickets for your top choices. A lot of these tickets include queue-jumpers too, helping you to breeze through your sightseeing days.
Enjoy the moment – This cannot be emphasized enough. Holidays are packed full of unique moments and you may never be in these locations again. Drink in your surroundings and focus on absorbing things that will help you remember your trip long after it has ended. Experiences, people, food, places, vibes, scenery. All the things that make each trip special and give you that holiday glow.
Take care of the basics – While you are enjoying the bliss of every travel day, keep a little time to look after the EAT essentials – energy, appetite and thirst. Look after these and you are setting yourself up for whatever the day holds. And to all you social media scrollers out there, (basically everyone), think about unplugging and having some tech-free time during the day. It is a break after all.
Some great reads to help you beat the anxiety bug
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