Eight ways to reduce travel anxiety

Eight-ways-to-reduce-travel-anxiety

Lots of people experience some sort of travel anxiety. Have you ever noticed how your partner gets extra ‘stressed’ when you have to drive to the airport? Or how your friend shuts their eyes tightly and prays when the plane experiences unexpected turbulence? That’s travel anxiety—and it’s completely normal.

A lot of us feel unsettled when we do unfamiliar things in new places. And while taking a holiday is great, travelling is a breeding ground for long-forgotten fears, family conflicts, and bad habits to come into play.

These things don’t have to ruin your holiday though. If you manage them well, they can help you have an even richer and more rewarding experience. From the planning stages to travel itself, here are eight ways you can reduce travel anxiety and (hopefully) a lot of the drama that goes with it.

  1. Solidify the destination

A lot of travel anxiety comes from uncertainty. Some of this can occur when you are deciding when and where you will travel to—especially if a friend, partner or your family is throwing ten different options at you! In this situation your priority is solidifying where you will go and when.

Block out all the voices (quite literally if needed) and make a list of the places you want or need to go. Place the pros of cons of each destination next to them—consider who you will see, how expensive it will be, and how long it takes it travel to the destination. This will help you to narrow down the top choices for everyone, and you can discuss the best option from there.

Once you’ve decided on a destination, commit to it and set a timeframe for your trip. This helps you to avoid any uncertainty about the future and keeps you and your loved ones accountable to keep it.

  1. Make a budget

A budget is boring, but it will keep you from stressing about unnecessary purchases or the bills sitting on the table when you arrive home. Factor in the price of travel, accommodation, food, shopping and unexpected expenses.

Even with a budget, some people never seem to stop worrying about cost, so make a conscious decision to enjoy your holiday. Whenever the compulsion to worry or complain about the price of something comes up, remember your budget and see if what you’re spending fits into it. Sticking to your budget gives you permission to enjoy your travels without constantly worrying if you will have enough.

  1. Be honest with your travel partners

Are there parts of your trip that concern you? Are you on a tight budget, concerned about jet lag, or are you stressed about events going on at home? Tell your travel partners.

We often feel like we have to hide our anxiety so our travel partners can have a better holiday, but by doing this we often reflect our stress onto them. They are left feeling powerless to help you, and this can create conflict.

If you have concerns, tell your travel partners. Be it a friend, your spouse or even the kids—let them know that you are feeling stressed due to this, and you may need some extra support or understanding in particular parts of your trip. If you sense the anxiety rising up during your trip, let them know you are struggling. From here you can take steps to care for yourself while your friends continue to enjoy their trip.

  1. Pre-book everything

Some people thrive off spontaneity. They love the idea of arriving at a destination, and figuring out their accommodation and transport on the spot. If that’s not you, give yourself permission to pre-book everything. From flights, to hotels, rental cars, tours, even some meals—if pre-booking alleviates your stress when you arrive, do it. And if the thought of pre-booking still feels like too much, speak to a travel agent.

Pre-booking things also gives you the opportunity to compare prices and research the area you are visiting before you arrive. This takes into account the safety of the area, how close you are to attractions, and the time required for different activities.

This level of planning isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and fluidity and spontaneity on a holiday is a good thing. However, if you know these details will cause you more stress than enjoyment when the plane touches down, book ahead. It’s better for everyone.

  1. Identify your priorities

We all have different priorities when we travel. Some people are in it for the adventure, some for the relationships they want to cultivate, and others for the sights and sounds of a new place. Once you identify your priorities, you can figure out how to make them happen in the least stressful way possible.

For instance, if connecting with family is a priority—but you also know they cause you stress and you can only see them in increments—then you can break up your interaction with them by planning social activities. You could also schedule tours and road trips every few days to give yourself space.

If relaxing is a priority, then you may prefer lounging by the hotel pool to seeing the hidden treasures of a foreign city. And if you and your travel partners have different priorities, then give yourself permission to alternate between activities or do things on your own.

  1. Anticipate the travel experience

Anticipating how you will feel when you travel isn’t about catastrophising a situation (“The plane is definitely going to crash!” comes to mind), it’s about remedying a crisis before it may happen.

If you know turbulence causes you anxiety, or you become claustrophobic on long trips, bring some earphones, a sleep mask and speak to your chemist about over-the-counter medication.

If you’re afraid of entering a new culture, speak to someone who has travelled to the area before and research the customs, norms and values on the Internet.

If the concept of running through airports between layovers is anxiety-provoking, familiarise yourself with the layout of the airport before you arrive, and tell a flight attendant you need to make a connecting flight.

  1. Set your boundaries

Are you travelling with other people? Set your boundaries early on. This may require separate bedrooms, alone time or different itineraries.

Boundaries are a key to survival when you travel with others. The entire experience is a melting pot for heightened emotions and expectations, and due to this irritation and frustration can occur more frequently. Anticipate that this will happen, and make allowances for it.

If you partner becomes moody when they are hungry, schedule in your meal times and make them non-negotiable. If you are not a morning person, allow your friends to explore while you stay in bed, and join them later on. If a friend is a chronic planner or wants to control everything, determine what you will and won’t do ahead of time and tell them when they are going too far.

Boundaries aren’t just required between travel partners, they are also required when we visit or meet people in our travels. If you know your relatives will try to ‘fix’ you or plan your entire trip, make your schedule clear and don’t give them any leeway to change your plans or your life.

  1. Consider returning home

Arriving is one thing, but by the time you return home everyone is exhausted. Mentally, emotionally and physically, you will be drained and ready to crash in bed. Make allowances for this by asking someone to pick you up, having transport ready and accessible so you can return home as soon as possible, or even getting take-away food on the way home.

Don’t expect yourself for your travel partners to be angels on your return. Give each other grace when you are tired, and make sure everyone can eat, shower and sleep as soon as possible to diffuse any tension. Unpacking can always wait!

Does the ideal of travel make you anxious? Would you like to explore strategies that can assist you on an upcoming holiday? Here’s what you need to do: contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book on our online diary.

Redefining Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

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It is a single thought, triggering feelings of anxiety in my stomach that gravitate upwards towards my brain, and down towards my feet.​

It sweeps in, its dark cloak hiding the light of reality, shrouding my mind in confusion that will circle until I distract it, or until it becomes exhausted from repetition. In any case, it will eventually fly away, waiting for the next opportunity to come and consume my mind and body.​

My obsessive-compulsive tendencies do not appear like they say in the books. In them, they show pictures of people washing hands and meticulously lining up objects in order of colour and size. I have been known to do these things, but they are not the compulsions that threaten to break me.

​It is the thoughts.

It is the constant cycle as they spin round and round and round and round—like a death march pulling me closer towards an abyss that doesn’t even exist. They create a maze, which, if I am not careful, I begin to believe I am trapped in.

A maze of never-ending thoughts, feelings and uncontrollable behaviours.

I hate my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I do not even like to call it mine; after all, it does not define me. It is but a collection of chemicals and synapses. But in those moments, when I can’t see or think of anything but that which I fear, I start to believe that we are one and the same.​

In the seconds the thought begins, it traces its way through my body towards a reaction. I have learnt to recognize it almost immediately. Once it would keep me up—minutes and hours and days spent obsessing over the same incident. Through time, however, I have become accustomed to OCD’s plans and schemes. How it latches onto words and names, faces and memories. How it likes to catch me off guard when I am tired and burnt out, delivering unfounded threats, saying it will topple my years in recovery and the many times I have conquered it.

The moments it strikes are hard to overcome, because it is difficult to prevent your body from reacting to something it is programmed to respond to. It’s like having something wrestle you to the ground, but when you try to fight back, it increases its grip. Only by waiting out the moment does the thought and sensation lose its power.

And ever so slowly, it leaves you alone and the chemicals in your brain make a new, healthier path, allowing you to see that the attacker wasn’t even really there. It was all just thoughts and chemicals, pulling you into a parallel reality. Sending you into panic mode.​

I know that I am stronger than these thoughts and compulsions.​

As a teenager I would visualize my fears, and they kept me shut inside my bedroom, afraid of myself and the world around me.

I found freedom when I told my parents about these thoughts—about how I was scared they were real, and that I was living a lie.

I found freedom when, with the support of my psychiatric nurse, I took short walks in the daylight, slowly decreasing my irrational fear of being attacked outside of the home.

I found freedom when I realized that I didn’t want to die, even when the thoughts and compulsions told me I did.

The truth is, OCD has robbed me of a lot. Sometimes it still tries to steal precious minutes of my days. But I have realized that who I am today—the strong, resilient woman I have become—would not exist without it.

By facing OCD and anxiety, I have learned that small steps lead to grand adventures, and short walks outside bolster courage within me to explore new lands.

By struggling with OCD and anxiety, I have learned to have empathy and compassion towards people who are different to me, because I have questioned my own identity too.​

By questioning OCD and anxiety, I have redefined and re-evaluated what I believe, and why I want to be alive.​

And by overcoming OCD and anxiety, I have learnt that this all-encompassing illness does not define me. I am not the thoughts it places in my head, or the panic that sets in about something I am in control of. I am not the insomnia, or the chemicals and hormones racing around my body, triggered by a lingering doubt in my mind. ​

I am so much more than this.

I am brave and bold, fearless and courageous. Yet I would not possess these in such great quantities if I did not battle with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

I have hope that one day the OCD will pass forever. That the triggers of this season will cease, as did those of past years. That the fears they bring will be overcome with love and patience and trust. That I will become so confident and certain of my own worth and identity that the moment a thought attempts to trigger a compulsion it will be blocked by my own self-love.

Until then, I ride it out. I take the moments OCD strikes as an indicator that I need rest, and I revel in the victory awaiting me on the other side of it.

I redefine OCD as an illness, not an identity—a moment, rather than a lifetime. I am not my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, but because of it I have become me. And that is why I will overcome it, every single time.​

This excerpt comes from Jessica’s memoir, When Hope Speaks: Thoughts on faith, hope, love (and depression). Pre-order the Expanded Edition on Kindle HERE before March 5 and $1 will be donated to To Write Love On Her Arms. 

Do you struggle with obsessive compulsive behaviours or thoughts? Are you concerned about the mental health of a loved one? Here’s what you need to do: contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book on our online diary.

The top anxiety blogs of 2018

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It’s a new year, and the Watersedge team have a reason to celebrate, because we were just named one of the top anxiety blogs of 2018 by Home Remedies for Life!

We are so privileged to stand along side other renowned wellness blogs like The Mighty, Blue Light Blue and Honest Mom. Whether you’re after a personal perspective on battling with anxiety, or a more clinical or educational approach, this list gives you a huge range of options that will help you feel less alone.

You can see the full list here. Thank you to our friends at Home Remedies for Life for adding us to the list. We are so excited to share our new content with you in 2018!

Do you experience anxiety? Would you like to explore strategies and techniques to overcome it in your life? Here’s what you need to do: contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book on our online diary.

 

10 natural ways to overcome anxiety

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An estimated 1 in 10 Australians and 1 in 6 Americans are taking antidepressants, but research shows that while these professional prescribed medications can be beneficial for many people, it can also have potentially nasty side effects. These include tremors, headaches, indigestion, vomiting and even insomnia. The good news is that if you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you can try these healthy alternatives.

Good natural ways to overcome anxiety are to eat certain foods that boost your mood and take up activities that calm your mind.

Examples for stress reducing foods are fish and walnuts, which contain Omega-3 for healthy brain cells. Turmeric is a great spice, which works as well as the popular drug Prozac and can be consumed in any amount. Another popular choice is the St. Johns Wort herb, which has been used as a natural antidepressant since the Renaissance.

Activities include exercising, meditation and certain breathing techniques are also great natural cures for anxiety. Working up a sweat for just 30 minutes three times a week will make a big difference in mood and stress levels.

And doing it outside provides even more benefits because the sun recharges your Vitamin D deposit, which has a big effect on your mood. Mindful meditation helps you find peace with your inner self.

If you’ve tried medication and are unhappy with the results, * or you are looking for a natural alterative, start by eating well and having an active lifestyle. This has a huge impact on your journey to an anxiety-free life. 

10-natural-ways-to-overcome-anxiety

Are you interested in the natural ways you can manage anxiety? Would you like support before you head to your doctor to talk about anti-depressant medication? Here’s what you need to do: contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book on our online diary.

*Speak to your doctor or a medical professional before making any changes to your prescribed medication. If you are experiencing any physical or mental symptoms that concern you after choosing natural remedies, speak to your doctor immediately.

Rene is a writer for homeremediesforlife blog where he investigates ways to battle anxiety, depression and stress without the use of drugs. You can read his article about the most powerful natural antidepressants here: Home Remedies for Anxiety

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How to stress less and find happiness

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It’s hard to get through a typical day without experiencing stress, right? From money concerns to worries about work, 7 out of 10 of us feel extremely anxious or stressed each day.

When we’re stressed, we experience physical fatigue and tend to take out our concerns on others. We see it damage relationships and create tension in ordinary situations. So how do we beat stress? The fact 85% of what we’re stressed about never happens is a great stat to comfort us when we’re agitated, but it’s not always easy to let stress ‘roll of our back’.

The great news is that there are some simple ways to reduce stress in our every-day life. Talking to a friend or colleague, seeing a counsellor—even putting a pot plant on your desk can all help to re-establish your own well-being. Add some exercise, meditation or fun activities into your schedule and you’ll also begin to feel less stressed.

Take a look at this infographic by Happify and see what methods you can use to reduce stress in your life. Let us know your favourite relaxation techniques in the comments!

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Are you stressed? Would you like to break free of your anxiety and worries? Here’s what you need to do: contact WatersedgeCounselling on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book in our online diary.

 

12 reasons why a dog can help you cope with depression and anxiety

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The World Health Organisation declared April 7 as World Health Day focusing on mental health. This year-long campaign aims to educate, raise awareness and help people suffering from mental illness

Depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues now affect more than 300 million people worldwide according to the World Health Organisation, and more needs to be done to educate and inform people about what we can do to manage them, especially since they are usually also the underlying cause of many other social issues.

A great way to care for our mental health is to care for a pet. Those of us who have a dog in our life know just how important they are to help us stay fit, keep socialising and live life to the full.

My team and I at Pet Gear Lab created this infographic to highlight 12 reasons why a dog can help you cope with depression and anxiety. Take a look and make time in your day to experience the health-benefits of animals. Take your dog for a walk, cat-sit for a neighbor or go to an animal refuge and choose your own pet—not only will it improve your health, it will also give you a friend that will last a life time.

For more information about the holistic benefits of pets visit petgearlab.com.

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Do you struggle with a mental illness? Would you like to learn about day-to-day strategies you can use to soothe yourself? Call Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10 minute consultation. To make an appointment, go to BOOK NOW and you will be able to access Watersedgecounselling’s online appointment diary.

Six ways to manage social anxiety

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It’s the thumping heart, the sweaty palms, and the seeming inability to communicate verbally to the person across from you.

It’s the fear that everyone is silently judging you, and if you make eye contact with them something disastrous could happen.

And it’s the isolation you feel it an overwhelmingly crowded place, when the smallest task takes all your energy to complete.

Social anxiety is a beast. Some of us experience it momentarily, like on the first day of a new job, when we enter a uber-competitive environment or see colleagues in an unexpected place. Other people experience it all the time, and a ‘simple’ activity like shopping or going out to dinner nearly feel unbearable.

As someone who still deals with social anxiety, I know what it’s like to freak out over the simplest tasks. And even though I’ve combatted a lot of my (somewhat irrational) fears over the years, I still panic when I encounter a new situation, I’ve just learned to mask it a lot better.

If you also struggle with social anxiety, here are six ways you can begin to manage it.

  1. Realise it’s normal

Feeling anxious about a situation you think ‘normal people’ are fine with only makes your fear escalate. While not everyone experiences social anxiety, we all feel some sort of awkwardness. Remember that you’re not the only one who feels uncomfortable around people. In fact, there are probably others around you at this moment experiencing a similar level of anxiety, you just can’t tell because most of us laugh it off or hide it.

  1. Pre-plan

I’m a terrible decision maker at the best of times, and when I’m in an uncomfortable situation my inability to choose between chai tea and a mocha latte becomes impossible. So when possible, plan where you’re going and what you’ll do there.

If you’re going to an event, make a time to meet up with a friend so you’re not left on your own. If being in a crowded space troubles you, go at a less-busy time, and if talking to a cashier freaks you out, have your money set aside for them before you approach the counter. These are only small steps, but they can help you to avoid an anxiety attack.

  1. Let a friend know

If you struggle in a particular situation, don’t be ashamed to let someone know. A loved one, partner, spouse or friend will likely have already picked up that you’re uncomfortable in some situations, and telling them you have social anxiety will help them to connect the dots.

You can’t always avoid anxiety, but having someone around who understands what you’re experiencing makes a world of difference. Tell them what you need to feel calm, and let them help you to plan for and work through each situation.

  1. Write down your fears

When you’re anxious about something, you might role-play different scenarios in your head until you’re so afraid you decide not to complete the task. It’s important that you consider the event or situation you are entering, but catastrophising about what may occur if you see x or what could happen if you say x, only heightens your emotions.

Before you enter an anxiety-provoking scenario, write down your fears, hopes and expectations around the event. For each fear or problem, write down a possible solution. You may find that just by writing it down, you take away its power and feel more empowered.

Go back over the list when the event is complete, and see what actually occurred. Over time, you’ll begin to control your fear when you realise more often than not, scenarios aren’t as bad as they seem.

  1. Set a time frame

My anxiety is always worse when I am tired and stressed, and I know it’s time to go home when I become unresponsive or irritable. Over time, you’ll learn the physical and mental symptoms you show when you’ve had enough and this will be a sign that you need to have some alone time.

How intense the environment is, the level of social interaction you’ve had and how long you’re out will affect this, so set a time frame for each situation and give yourself permission to leave when its done so you can care for yourself.

  1. See a professional

If your social anxiety is all consuming and you struggle to leave the house, make a phone call or see people, then seeing a counsellor or psychologist is a great first step to managing it.

Lots of places allow you to research therapists online, and some even let you book over the Internet. Ask a friend to drive you to the appointment, and if this feels like too much, ask the therapist if you can connect over Skype or email instead.

It takes time to overcome social anxiety, and for some people (myself included), it becomes a process of learning to manage it. Wherever you’re at, know you’re not alone in these emotions. You can navigate them and with a bit of support, learn to live a happy and healthy life. It just starts with asking for help.

Do you struggle with social anxiety? Would you like some help overcoming your fears? Here’s what you need to do: Contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you or book online now.

This is what mental illness feels like

This is what mental illness feels like

One of the best ways to cope with mental illness is to express it creatively. Some people do this by crafting, colouring, drawing or knitting. To cope with her anxiety, illustrator (and self-proclaimed lover of pugs) Gemma Correll draws.

From witty drawings of what it means to be in a relationship, to expressions of what it feels like to be overwhelmed by anxious thoughts, her illustrations capture what life with mental illness feels like to a tee. Gemma’s work has been featured on book covers, greeting cards and was used on Mental Health America’s ‘Mental Illness Feels Like’ series. We’ve chosen some of our favourites to share with you.

View more of Gemma’s work here, and then have a go drawing yourself. What does mental illness feel like in your life? Get a pencil and you’ll find healing as you express it on paper.

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Do you struggle with anxiety? Would you like support so you can manage a mental illness? Contact Colleen 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10 minute consultation on how she can best help you or press book now on the online diary.

Introducing When Hope Speaks

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Regular readers of Watersedge will recognise the name Jessica Morris. Aside from contributing to the blog, she also oversees the social media and editorial content on our website. She has been open and honest about her own struggles with mental illness, giving us an insight into her experiences of therapy, teen to adulthood transition, and moving away from home.

Today we are excited to share Jessica’s new book with you all. Titled When Hope Speaks, it is a memoir about her diagnosis with depression and an anxiety disorder. Using essays, letters, blog posts and poems, she unravels the story of her mental illness and how it shaped her from diagnosis as a 13 year old, to her life today as an international journalist.

Available on October 10—World Mental Health Day, this is an inspiring story reminding people who live with mental illness that they never walk the journey alone. Carers and loved ones will be encouraged, and professionals can use it as a tool to educate and support their clients.

You can read an excerpt from When Hope Speaks by visiting Jessica’s website. Available October 10 through Salvo Publishing, order your copy now at jessicamorris.net.

“I’m so proud of my friend Jessica. She continues to impress me, not only with her writing but with how she lives her life. You get to see both in this book—Jessica’s talent for telling stories and for living them as well. She does both with compassion, with honesty, and with grace.”

~ JAMIE TWORKOWSKI,
founder, TO WRITE LOVE ON HER ARMS
New York Times Best-selling Author, If You Feel Too Much

Locals are invited to attend the When Hope Speaks book launch this Saturday October 8. I will be representing WatersedgeCounselling on a mental health panel to follow a reading and Q & A by the author. Starting at 7pm at the Mule Shed Café at 64 Separation Street, North Geelong, entry is by donation to Hope Movement. Click here for more details.

Do struggle with depression or anxiety? Are you concerned about the mental health of a friend or loved one? Here’s what you need to do: contact WatersedgeCounselling on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book in our online diary

This is what anxiety looks like

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What happens when you feel anxious? Does your heart rate rise? Do your palms get sweaty? Would you like to run away?

We all experience some form of anxiety and worry, but for people who live with an anxiety disorder, these feelings are more extreme.

In this infographic by Mental Health America, we learn that anxiety doesn’t just affect someone’s thoughts—it also affects the body and their behaviours.  People without anxiety may tell a friend to ‘get over it’, ‘it’s not as bad as it seems,’ or to simply, ‘stop worrying,’ but a person struggling knows this won’t do anything—in fact, the stress of thinking it’s ‘wrong’ to feel so anxious, may make the symptoms worse.

Anxiety is broad and can appear different for each person. Anxiety disorders range from panic disorder, to obsessive compulsive tendencies, social anxiety to post traumatic stress disorder. The cause of anxiety and it’s symptoms vary, but, as the infographic says below, it is marked by feelings of being completely overwhelmed, feeling powerless, experiencing incredibly heightened physical responses like heart palpitations, and/or living in a constant state of fear.

People who experience anxiety will often feel isolated and alone. The good news though, is they are not. In recent years, we’ve learnt that two millions Australians experience anxiety every year, and more than 21 per cent of American adults have an anxiety disorder. By talking about this mental illness, we let our friends and family know that they can get through life and not just survive, but thrive.

If you struggle with anxiety, take a look at the coping techniques listed below. Talking to someone you trust, doing exercise, practicing deep breathing and doing mindfulness are all great strategies when you feel inhibited and your body is in panic mode.

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Do you struggle with feelings of anxiety, fear and being isolated? Would you like to break free of your anxiety? Contact us on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10 minute discussion or go to BOOK ONLINE NOW and follow the prompts to make an appointment.