I’ve always been a big fan of Dana from Wild Hearted World but when she posted on Instagram about some of the roughest weeks she’d had while travelling, I knew I had to get her story for ARoamerTherapy.
Below, she opens up about those tough times and offers some of her top tips for dealing with anxiety on the road. A big thanks to her for sharing this – it isn’t always easy talking about the hard times.
Have you ever experienced anxiety while travelling?
I first experienced anxiety when I was eighteen, and it has come and gone over the past sixteen years. Late last year, anxiety reared its ugly head, towards the beginning of my bucket list trip from Mexico to Colombia. I was in Guatemala at the time and was presented with a series of challenges.
One of my closest friends from home (Australia), passed away. A guy I had met weeks earlier in Belize came to meet me in Guatemala, but things did not end well. On top of this, it was only a week until Christmas. I was feeling incredibly alone, surrounded by uncertainty and panic about the prospect of another few months of solo travel.
I bid farewell to said man and proceeded to unravel into a crumbling heap later that day when I reached Antigua. My chest felt so heavy, I couldn’t breath and all I wanted was to be home with my family. Instead, I had the shuttle drop me off in the main square and I scrambled to find the nearest hotel where I could hole up and cry.
The next month for me looked like this.
I spent the next few days in my hotel, allowing myself to feel all the feels. Face timed friends to let them know what was happening and have them be there for me. Barely ate, I couldn’t stomach food at all. My brain kept over analysing what had happened until I made the choice to change my perspective.
I wanted to go home but the anxiety with being faced with thirty plus hours of flights was just as bad as the thought of staying where I was and continuing my travels. I told myself I would take it day by day and that is exactly what I did for the next month.
Each day presented new fears for me to overcome and I kept consciously choosing to be kind to myself. I took it as slow as I needed. Antigua became my base and I travelled to Lake Atitlan for a week for Christmas.
After, I went back to Guatemala City for three nights because I thought I would fly home for New Years but when I got there, that didn’t feel right either. From there, I went back to Antigua for a week for New Years and then travelled down to El Salvador for a week by the beach.
All of this helped me get my groove back and continue on through Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, L.A and New Zealand for another couple of months.
For someone who felt so alone, I did a pretty amazing job of keeping myself open to possibilities.
I was rewarded with amazing new friends that came into my life because of that. Use this as a reminder to acknowledge yourself for what you are good at.
Those friendships I created over that month I will cherish forever. Complete strangers that held space for me to open up and be myself while facing off with this crippling anxiety.
My most defining moment was realising that if I went home, I would face the same feelings I was having in the moment but laced with regret that I hadn’t kept my word to be present and face these in real time, plus I would miss the rest of my trip.
So many people I met along the way were facing this too or had done in the past. It’s incredible what you learn about others when you cut the small talk and have a real conversation. It made me want to talk about it more and share in this post.
My top tips for travelling with anxiety
With years of personal development under my belt, These are some of the tools I have acquired to feel into my emotions and manage any challenges that come up or anxiety.
- Allow yourself to feel what is coming up. All too often we push away these feelings and replace them with crutches like social media, alcohol, food, TV and porn, etc to avoid the problem. Have a think about what you run to, to avoid facing the issue, and try removing for it for at least a month (I personally like three months).
- Know it is okay to feel off. It is your body’s way of letting you know you are out of alignment and a chance for you to stop and choose what you do want.
- Breathe! Take as many long deep breaths as you need to centre yourself, really feel into your core.
- Take time out. Book into a hotel (I like a big open space with lots of natural light and air). Have a massage. Face time friends and family. Sing and dance. Do whatever feels good for you.
- Let go of controlling how you think things should be and allow yourself to play and have fun. Let the magic unfold and trust that what you need will show up (It may not be what you expect and you probably won’t even realise until later).
- Get some sleep. A few good nights of rest always helps to reset the body.
- Eat whole foods and exercise daily. Fuelling your body with nutrient-rich foods and incorporating movement into every day will positively impact your mental health.
- Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to let people know how you’re feeling, even if you don’t know them. You would be surprised how many others have been through a similar experience.
I am always here to support. Please reach out to me if you have any questions. If you have had a similar experience or any other tips, drop them in the comments.
Dana’s world revolves around travel and inspiring people to step into their dreams. She runs her blog Wild Hearted World alongside her own travel agency. Her career has spanned ten years and six continents so far… She’s well on her way to bringing to life her goal of visiting every country in the world (and working remotely while I do it). Love her stuff? Follow her on Instagram and Facebook!!