Aug 8, 2023
Going on holiday and taking a break should be an exciting time, however, for some people, holidays can create unwanted feelings of stress and anxiety. This experience is known as holiday anxiety – within this blog, we’ll discuss what this is, what the causes are and tips for dealing with it.
This type of anxiety involves irrational thoughts around travelling or being on holiday. It usually involves obsessive thoughts about potential future events, experiences, and thoughts such as hypothetical worries, usually associated with “what if” questions.
Holiday anxiety stems from the uncertainty around being in a new situation/environment when you are away from your normal and comfortable routine.
Some of the symptoms you may notice with holiday anxiety or travel anxiety include the following:
Holiday anxiety can be caused by a range of different things, from stress to past experiences. Let’s go through them:
It is common for holiday anxiety to be mistaken for stress. Stress is usually triggered by an event, an experience, or even other individuals and the symptoms of stress will soon pass over.
Whereas, holiday or travel anxiety involves illogical thoughts which can spiral out of control. Although, it is likely that stress can trigger and stimulate the anxiety you feel about going on holiday. This is due to your body physically and emotionally responding to the stressor (i.e., travelling or going on holiday).
Work stress is common especially if you have a busy work life. Sometimes before, during and after a holiday, all you can think about is work. You may be worried about whether staff members will cope while you’re away and be anxious about the amount of work that’s waiting for you when you return. For people overly-invested in their job, they may find it difficult to switch off and stop thinking about work on holiday.
Fear can be classed one of the main causes for holiday anxiety. The pure fear of something can heighten panic and stimulate anxiety when going on holiday. Below are a few phobias that are the culprit:
The most common cause of travel anxiety is aerophobia (also known as the fear of flying). This is where you are naturally afraid of travelling above ground, so the thought of flying can be causing your anxiety before you reach your holiday destination. With this in mind, it can prevent many people from travelling abroad.
Other phobias that could cause travel anxiety include agoraphobia, which is the fear of no escape. Sometimes the feeling of not being able to see a way out can cause/trigger anxiety. For example, agoraphobia can go hand in hand and potentially be a cause of aerophobia and is common with public travel. Similarly, being in a different country away from home could instil this travel anxiety.
Past experiences include traumatic events such as negative experiences with travelling or when you previously went to a particular place you are travelling again to. As a result, it can be difficult to shake off the fear of that experience repeating itself, resulting in triggering holiday anxiety.
For help on dealing with your trauma, why not have a look through how we can help you with our Trauma therapy services?
Sometimes traumatic world events or disasters can engender holiday anxiety. For example, a prime example is the COVID-19 pandemic. This world health scare increased general anxiety especially around travel and the government regulations put into place to prevent further spread of the virus.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, holiday anxiety potentially increased due to the fear instilled from virus itself and the regulations set by highly authoritative figures transforming this fear and self-protection into normality and something we are used to.
Holiday anxiety can occur at any time of your trip, and so, we have gathered some helpful ways to help calm your holiday anxiety from the beginning to the end of your trip.
How can you deal with the anxiety you feel prior to your trip? Sometimes it is the build-up that is the worst part of holiday anxiety. Here are a few tips to try and prevent negative thoughts from occurring.
Preparation is key to calming your “what if” thoughts and nerves before travelling for your holiday.
Simple things such as taking pictures of you turning off light switches’, hair straighteners, plug sockets, ensuring your cookers are off. Doing so can give you some relief that those things are done, and you can refer to them if you ever get those thoughts of “what if I didn’t turn off the cooker” type of thoughts, to put your mind at ease.
Equally if you have any pets, it’s important to ensure they are taken care of if you are not travelling with them. It is also useful to ensure pet sitting is planned in advanced by a family member, friend, or pet sitter. Ensuring you contact them a few weeks prior to your trip will make sure that in case there are any cancellations, or they are unavailable, you have a peace of mind that your pet(s) are safe.
Include items such as:
Make sure your workload is complete or if there are deadlines through the period you will be on your trip, it is good to ensure you ask colleagues if they can cover some of the work and double check with them. By preparing at work, it ensures that things will be done and sorted at work, meaning it will be one less pressure off your mind around work. If you need more advice, we have a whole guide on how to achieve the work-life balance.
One thing that always helps, is ensuring you have a plan with timings. Creating an itinerary will give you a guide as to roughly what time you will need to be at the airport, so you can plan airline connections, lifts, or taxis if your travel providers don’t already do so.
Planning your journey will also allow you to confirm what time you and your travel party need to be ready and packed to leave the house. Equally, ensuring you have travel planned on the way back from your holiday will also help calm your nerves.
On holiday wanting to go home?
Is it that home is where you find comfort and feel the calmest? When you are feeling anxious close your eyes and take some deep breaths, think about the comforts you specifically seek from when you are at home and imagine yourself there.
It is common and difficult to appreciate the present when you are under stress and worries from anxiety. However, this anxiety can lead to panic attacks. If you are experiencing a panic attack, read our how to guide to deal with panic attacks.
Forms of meditation such as deep breathing and mindfulness are a great way to help you reduce a lot of your anxieties and stress in the moment, calm those nerves down and re-channel your negative thoughts.
Meditation techniques can be done in the moment to bring your thoughts and your mind back into the present so you focus on where you are, rather than insecurities about the future.
Need another way?
Sometimes distraction is your best friend. Take your mind deep into your favourite book or take part in activity such as colouring or listening to your favourite song.
Alternatively, journaling could help. Either writing your thoughts down so it is out of your head, or even doodling - it is your choice how you use your journal.
Keep reminding yourself that you have a plan if something goes wrong. It is important to change your perspective here. If you are worried about something on holiday, just remember there is always a solution for it. Change your perception into being solution based. With this positive thinking, it will hopefully let you remove yourself from that negative thought spiral and focus on what you can do and bring your mind back to the present tense.
Enjoy the free time you have on holiday - cherish, appreciate, and make the most of the fact you are experiencing a new place.
It can be easy to do a lot of the above with milder holiday anxiety. However, sometimes it can be difficult to self-help when you find these thoughts are uncontrollable even with the tips followed above. If you want further help with your holiday anxiety, it is beneficial to speak to a mental health professional.
At Head Agenda, we offer a range of services for mental health conditions that could be related to your holiday anxiety. For more information on how we can be there for you to help and support you, read through our service pages by clicking the links below:
Alternatively, if you are interested in getting therapy today to help you deal with holiday anxiety, click the button below to enquire today.
Disclaimer: This article has been designed for entertainment and informational purposes; it is not personalised medical advice. This guide may be a useful read to generate some ideas, however, please take advice from a medical professional.
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