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Don't let anxiety get in the way of your travels. Try these tips – Florida Today

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Q: My husband and I are preparing to go on vacation in a couple of weeks.
We will be flying up north to visit family and do some sightseeing.
I struggle with anxiety in general, but traveling is always a big trigger for me, especially since the pandemic.
It doesn’t matter where we are going or what we are doing, I start worrying weeks in advance about every “what if” possibility you could imagine.
I know logically my worrying is excessive and deprives us both from fully enjoying the experience, but I don’t know how to control it.
Do you have any tips or strategies that could help me manage my anxiety related to traveling?
Kristin’s previous three columns:
A: When you struggle with “what if” thoughts in your day-to-day routines, it makes sense that removing yourself from your normal environment to unfamiliar circumstances would heighten anxiety.
People who live with anxiety tend to be very creative people, which allows them to create all types of scenarios in their minds.
They pay close attention to details and are often the most prepared in a group.
However, when anxiety becomes excessive it is exhausting, frustrating and sometimes impairing. 
Anxiety is an emotion we may experience when we are thinking ahead of the here and now.
It is an attempt to predict what might happen in the future to protect ourselves. 
Unfortunately, we do not know all potential factors to accurately predict the future. 
Therefore, we are focusing on things that are out of our control.
If we continue to do so, over time we lose sight of what is in our control.
The solution to battling anxiety is to focus on the present.
Try to identify the choices you have today with what you know now and use them to counter your fears.
This is where you can find a sense of control in your world. 
With that said, I would encourage you to identify the things you currently know about your travel.
Some possible examples:
• I know that if I forget to pack something I need, I will be able to find a store where I am traveling.
• I know that if I get overwhelmed or stressed with the company we are staying with, I can excuse myself for a break back to my room or take a walk outside.
• I know that if something were to change with our flight, I can ask the help desk for assistance in getting to where I’m going.
• I know that if we were running behind and missed an activity we had scheduled, we can attempt to reschedule or explore alternative options.
• I know when things have happened unexpectedly during travel in the past, I have managed to cope and solve the problem. Therefore, I have the skills and capability of handling unexpected events.
In addition to your own self-talk, I highly encourage you to invite your husband to be a part of this process.
Communicate with him what you are thinking and feeling and allow him to help you consider different perspectives.
Together, you can develop a “plan B” for scenarios you are most worried about so you can continue to be mindful of the choices you have throughout your trip. 
If you have a question related to emotional well-being that you would like to submit for consideration to be posted and answered in this column, you may email your inquiries to contact@pamperyourmind.com.
Kristin Woodling is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Chief Executive Officer of Pamper Your Mind LLC in Satellite Beach.  Details about the practice and services provided can be found at pamperyourmind.com.

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