Traveling again?Patient & Families
Traveling takes us other places, visits with friends and relatives, but often times people struggle with the “getting there”. Covid has certainly added another layer of complexity to the ordeal. Masks, Covid tests, vaccines, quarantining, and new variants are just some of the additional considerations and restrictions placed on travel.
A lot of people experience somatic symptoms related to travel. We might experience anxiety before and during our trip such as excessive worrying, difficulty concentrating, and irritability. Out of nowhere we may experience a panic attack. Panic attacks are driven by overwhelming fear and lead to physical responses to stressors. A panic attack can feel like you are dying and is also commonly thought to be a heart attack. The physical symptoms can include shortness of breath, sweating, heart palpitations, headaches, feelings of dread, nausea, numbness, feelings of being detached from reality and more. Fear of flying, being in small spaces, driving, crowds, being in an unfamiliar place can cause panic attacks. With Covid, there may be pandemic related fears that exacerbate previous travel fears.
If you’ve never experienced travel related anxiety or fear, it’s important not to dismiss or minimize someone else’s concerns. Like we mentioned before, having a panic attack can make you feel like you are dying or even having a heart attack. How are you handling your child’s, your partner’s, your parent’s, your friend’s, your co-worker’s anxiety and fear related travel? Do your responses ever lead to frustration, irritability, anger, depression, or even abuse?
What can therapy do?
Well, for those of us trying to cope with someone else’s fears, a therapist can help us better understand our responses and how they can lead to unhealthy thought and behavioral patterns. A therapist or psychologist can support you to increase your frustration tolerance. Therapy can illuminate maladaptive communication skills that disrupt healthy relationships.
For those of us with travel fears and anxiety, therapy can support exploration of symptoms and their impact on our daily lives. A therapist can show you relaxation techniques, including breathing and mindfulness. A therapist can also support you in making a plan for when you do travel so that you know when to use self-talk, coping skills, or lean on your support system. You don’t have to hold onto those fears alone anymore or minimize their impact on you. Try talking to a therapist so that you can participate in your life in all of the ways that are important to you. You may be surprised where it can take you.
Lauren Pena MFT, ATR, LMFT # 130687
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