Planning a Vacation with Anxiety

Planning a vacation can be a really exciting experience for some, however, for others it may create added stress and/or anxiety.

As many of us have experienced, we have been under lock down after lockdown for about over a year-and-a-half. Working from home, taking days off in the local area, possibly putting that vacation off and being separated from our loved ones was the status quo for a prolonged period of time. Now we are starting to take to the skies, rails, road and water for some relief from the mundaneness of the past 25 months.

Vacation away from home can be a stressful experience, even though it is “supposed” to be relaxing. In fact research, (Holmes, T.H., & Rahe, R.H, 1967) has shown that going on vacation can be a stressful event in someone’s life. Vacation can bring up a lot of anxieties, particularly for those who are prone to higher levels of anxiety. The initial planning stages can be stressful. Making the decision of where to go, financial considerations, organizing schedules if you travel with a partner, others, and/or children, what to do and how to get there is challenging, particularly if you have difficulty making decisions. Also, some people are fearful of certain modes of transportation.

Let’s talk solutions, and again, if there is something not addressed we encourage you to bring it up in session with your therapist or e-mail us and we can add it to this post or future blogs. The following are some suggestions for the dilemmas you may come across during your planning and vacation journey:

Making the decision: It may be tempting for some to make the vacation “perfect”. Bring awareness to this if this is the case. Planning a trip with a partner or loved ones may help to make decisions easier – or working with a travel agent. Keep in mind, not everything might go as planned, and that is okay. Try to enjoy the experience of the journey as well – not just the destination.

Financial: Vacations can be expensive and have costs that you did not anticipate. This is especially true today, as the entry requirements to get back into Canada can lead to additional screening costs before you leave a foreign country. If you think you may be worried about the money and if it might decrease your enjoyment of your vacation it may be worth taking this into account when planning. Booking an all-inclusive vacation or a vacation with a meal plan can combine certain costs like food, beverage and certain entertainment. Things like this can reduce anxiety around finances so you can better enjoy your much deserved time away.

Making the Plans: Take care of your emotional, mental, physical and spiritual needs. Planning can be challenging and sometimes stressful. Prices can fluctuate by the hour at times, but if you don’t get the deal that you saw, there will most likely be something that comes along. It might be worth having a budget and time to travel in mind while you are looking, so if you find that “perfect” vacation you can have your method of payment ready to purchase. Tip: If you book directly through the airline they usually have a 24 hour cancellation policy without any penalty, so if you change your mind you can back out. If you have to pay a little more for the same plans or don’t attain the itinerary you want, is it worth stressing about?

Be prepared: Try your best to schedule and plan for your vacation so that you are not leaving things until the last minute. Being prepared can help to alleviate some anxiety. Creating a packing list and running errands ahead of time can help, as well as arriving at the airport in good time. Writing a to-do list and/or creating a schedule for yourself can help to ensure you fulfill important tasks before departing.

Managing Anxiety predeparture, in the present and in the future: Remind yourself that this is a vacation for your body and brain. At times it may not feel like that, and that’s alright. I once heard a standup comedian talk about how he hated going to Disney World, but always looked back on it in a positive way. If you find that you are beating yourself up about being anxious about your vacation, it may be worth reminding yourself that it is normal to be somewhat anxious about these situations.

Seek assistance if necessary: If you feel very overwhelmed and have difficulty decompressing it may be worth talking to your family physician and/or seeking psychotherapeutic help to manage the issue. There could be an underlying issue that could be interfering with your life in other ways if this is the case. If there is a fear preventing your from travel this may also be worth getting help with.

Safe travels,

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