Feeling anxious about going on holiday?

Worried about holidays? (Photo: Submitted)
Worried about holidays? (Photo: Submitted)

The run up to the time away, preparing for the trip, packing and arranging cover at work or for pets, can mean that rather than being a time to relax, a holiday can result in feelings of severe stress.

Kim Heappey, Clinical Lead at DRCS, the largest third sector provider of counselling services including talking therapies and well being programmes in Derbyshire and the Peak District, looks at the issue.

“For most people, a holiday means relaxing, spending time with loved ones, seeing some new sights and attractions, and making some new memories. But it's not like that for everyone, especially those prone to anxiety. Holidays can be a trigger time.

“Many people worry about things going wrong on the first day of their holiday, the concept of travelling far away, especially if air travel is involved, and dealing with new experiences while away from normal routines, can all be too much to cope with.

“For anxiety sufferers, it is not that they don’t want to go away and relax, it is the feelings of panic about being in an unknown place or doing an unusual activity.”

Tips to help avoid panic attacks

1. Before your break

A panic attack can include an increased heart rate, shortness of breath, trembling and sweating.

The key is to flood your system with positivity. Rather than focusing on the panic attack, switch to your logical brain and start planning your holiday playlist, your favourite outfits, find new places to go or check out the local restaurants and their menus and decide what you would like to do.

2. A fear of flying?

Feeling anxious during a flight or during turbulence is not uncommon. Focus on slowing your breathing by closing your eyes and breathing more slowly, inhaling deeply and exhaling fully, counting to five with each new breath.

Once you have slowed your breathing for a couple of minutes, open your eyes and push away any negative thoughts by distracting yourself with something that makes you smile.

The more you focus on positive images and thoughts, the less you will feel fearful.

3. Worried about a new culture or the food?

Focus on what you can control. Make sensible food choices that you know you like, and research cultural differences and customs ahead of the holiday to feel more comfortable in your new surroundings. Accept some things will be different though.

4. Scared of being away from home in case anything happens?

Focusing on things that are yet to happen or may never happen will mean you won’t enjoy your holiday and live in the moment.

Reassure yourself, and overcome any concerns you have about being away from home. Ensuring you have travel insurance and any prescription medication and a basic first aid kit before leaving helps. Research any holiday medication or vaccinations you may need ahead of your trip.

Stay connected with any news from home while you are abroad with phones/WIFI and stay in a place that has familiarities with your own home, so you feel comfortable.

5. Unfamiliar territory and language

Online maps and guides are very common so download a few before going to avoid getting lost. Local people can be very helpful.

Learning some basic words and phrases in that country’s language is useful, helpful and fun. Locals appreciate you making the effort.

6. Outside your comfort zone

New experiences can be fun. Try some new activities, but also do what you like. Exploring new boundaries out of your comfort zone means you can learn new skills, have new experiences and meet new people.

For further advice on seeking mental health support contact DRCS on 0800 047 6861.