on traveling with anxiety

what happens when you end up feeling like you need to get away from the getaway + three helpful takeaways (souvenirs)


how could you complain with a view like this?


St-Paul-de-Vence, France

St-Paul-de-Vence, France


how could this make you stressed out? 

hotel in St-Paul-de-Vence, France

hotel in St-Paul-de-Vence, France


this view should mean tranquility, not frustration...right?


St-Paul-de-Vence, France

St-Paul-de-Vence, France


...not necessarily.


these are all questions i asked myself while on a quiet getaway with my mother in the South of France. (you can read more about our trip to James Baldwin’s village, St. Paul de Vence,” here.)


when the day finally came to catch the train there, i felt like i wanted to get away from the getaway.


i am a very routine-based person. i sleep on the same side of the bed every night. i have the specific stores where i like to get specific things. and i have my go-to people whenever i need to vent.


but anything that strays from my routine can make me feel really anxious and even guilty. 

having my mom in Paris threw an axe in my gym routine, diet, and bedtime because i wanted to make sure she was having the best time possible. but this also meant that by the time we left to catch the train to the South of France, two days after my mother’s arrival, my anxiety was about to boil over. 


i wasn’t much for conversation on the train ride--three hours is a long time to be silent around my mother. i felt a quick moment of clarity when we got off the train and into a taxi to our village. the relief was short lived because once we got checked into our hotel room, i could feel the uneasiness setting in again.


my anxiety was coming from all directions. i felt guilty for all sorts of things: for not having worked out two days in a row, for cheating on my normally very healthy diet, and for letting these things consume my brain when i was supposed to be fostering memories with my mom.


if you deal with anxiety, you’ve experienced worry when there’s no reason to be concerned. you’ve had that feeling in your chest like something is wrong, when really, all may be right in the world.


if you don’t have anxiety, imagine that panicky feeling you get when you realize you've totally forgotten to do something important (an work deadline or your partner's birthday.) there's a pang in your chest that ensues. imagine it appearing for no reason at all, and thus feeling like there’s no cure for it.


the first night away, i gave myself permission to sleep, relax, and think of ways to get myself on track. this is a major takeaway/souvenir from this trip: when i'm feeling out of it, no matter if i'm home or on vacation, i'm working on not guilting myself into running around and packing my day to the brim. protect your peace even if that means you have to take a step back. 


i woke up the second day still in a funk, frustrated by my inability to basque in  all the beauty around me. so, after breakfast, i decided to get back in the bed to go through the ritual of beginning my day a second time.


i got up the second time at 2pm to head out for a quick run. i made it two minutes into my walk/warm up before i started crying. i stopped moving. i took some deep breaths, looked at the mountains and the stillness of the scenery around me, turned on my running app, and started my mile. i decided to start my run downhill because having to come back up the steep terrain would be a challenge, and i needed to push myself so that i could get a win and maybe feel a bit better.


workout endorphins are quite a natural drug. i got back to the hotel feeling significantly better.


after a hot shower, i put on my “Joyuary” sweater that i bought to support the JOYDay Movement, an AMAZING mental health awareness campaign started by a friend. 


when I folded the sweatshirt into my suitcase in preparation for the trip, i just knew i was going to take so many smiling photos in it--how could i not be happy in the South of France with my mother in the village where James Baldwin lived and wrote for decades? but sometimes, life has other plans for us. and, instead, i couldn't help thinking about how I had planned a joyous occasion, and failed to meet the emotional requirements for it.


joy is disobedient--it doesn’t always come when we call it. you can make efforts to be happy, but if it were something that happened at the snap of our fingers, we’d all be living in bliss. anxiety, sadness, depression can strike no matter if you’re on a trip to the local farmer’s market or across the country. i've been working on not putting it to the side just because it's inconvenient.


the most important journey is how far you’ll go to work on your mental health. and if you need a travel mate, i’m here with you.



Note: these are in the “i” perspective because i am not a medical professional. seek professional help if you’re looking for help with your anxiety or know someone who is. 

  1. finding out what is integral to my happiness and figuring out how to make those things happen while traveling is key. when i pack my bag for the day, whether i'm going just up the street or across the world, i make sure i pack a book and a journal because these things make me happy and can settle my anxiety if i need to pass some time. 

  2. sometimes a trip can be just what i need to get away from my day-to-day. vacations can be a reset button if you will. but, if a trip has the opposite effect, i work on listening to my body and finding little ways to get my routine back on track so that my mind can be at ease/in a familiar place. if i need to sleep, i'll sleep. if i need to eat more, i'll pick up more food. i'm working towards never feeling apologetic or like i've wasted my vacation, or even a day in my home city, for taking time to protect my peace of mind. i make the rules/the itinerary.

  3. i need to give myself permission to deal with my anxiety whenever it arises because vacations, and really any moments in life, are only happy if i am. 


do you ever get travel anxiety? how do you protect your peace of mind when you travel? let's chat it out in the comments.