When I was in high school I had very time sensitive anxiety. Being late to things or really anything other than being early made me feel all panicky inside. I preferred to be early to things like school or dance, which became tricky when I started to drive my sister around (she never felt the same sense of urgency that I did.) At some point, I out grew this anxiety. I can't exactly remember when I stopped caring so intensely about being late to things and there wasn't really an action that caused the anxiety to cease.
None of this compares though the the anxiety that came along with my last big trip, Bali and Madagascar.
Let's back up to August 2018. I was working a lot. I was working out regularly and eating pretty well. I was spending time with the people I love most. I was prepping to jet off again in September and making sure I had everything that I needed and that everything was in line. It was shaping up to be a pretty rad summer.
Then one day things kind of shifted. I remember one morning, I was doing my work out before heading to work and I was just a mess. I was panicked. I was fighting back tears that I couldn't explain. I was struggling more than was normal for the workout that I was doing. All these feelings continued through out my day. I had a panic attack on the way to work. I sat in the kitchen at work trying so hard to compose myself, with no such luck. I sat out back, sobbing on the phone with my dad. I sat for a while and then at the recommendation of my dad, I wrote out a list of the good. My list ranged from having loving and supporting parents, to the author of my favorite book, to the lake and ocean with their beauty and power, to a ripe mango, to a bottle of wine. I wrote out everything and anything that contributed good to my life, anything that made me feel good. Slowly, I composed myself and went back to work (this was one of the many moments I was thankful to work for my parents.)
The following weeks were filled with ups and downs. Good days and bad. Looking back I think a lot of the anxiety came from stress. Was I going to have enough money for my trip? Did I have everything on the recommended list of things I would need? Would I like my program? Would I meet great people? I came to a point where the slightest thought about my trip filled me with panic. I debated with myself if I should still go on the trip at all. At the end of the day I knew I wasn't going to bail, so come September I was off!
While overall my trip was incredible, there were ups and downs. Most of the downs and anxiety revolving around going to the dentist and doctor abroad. There were struggles, but I turned to journaling to help me sort through my head since my usual support system was half a world away.
So why share all of this? In all honesty, I'm not sure. I guess maybe a small part is because I am better at putting my thoughts on paper, or in this case on a screen, versus speaking them. What I do know is the last week or so has gotten tricky again. I've been not feeling myself and my anxiety is flaring up. I have some things that I do to try and help myself and I'm trying to really focus on those things lately.
Actively acknowledging my feelings and not trying to ignore the negative ones that come.
Writing down my feelings. This helped me beyond belief while in Madagascar. Putting my feelings on paper in front of me helped me to see what I thought was bugging me and reevaluate and see that what's worrying me is really not as big of a deal as I may think.
Deep Breaths. If I can catch myself starting to feel anxious, I'll stop and take a few deep breaths- inhale the good, exhale the bad. While it may not be an instant fix, it helps me to refocus. Combining with a little lavender oil can help as well!
Gratitude. Rattling off a quick list of things I am grateful for helps me to focus my thoughts on positive, joy filled things instead of the negative thoughts that are trying to creep in.
Remembering my "why" (thanks to my mom and Rachel Hollis.) With travel I kept going back to why I was traveling. I was traveling to see new places and people, to help protect the ocean and its inhabitants, to continue to learn, because I like the person that traveling has helped me become. Your intentions behind actions will always outweigh the anxieties you may be having surrounding a situation.
Move. Exuding some energy leaves me with less energy for negativity. Plus exercise releases some endorphins to help boost your mood.
And most importantly...
Be gentle! I've found it is super important not to beat yourself up over the bad days. Take life day by day and remember there will always be good days and bay because that's just life.