anxious travelerChristy Matta, MA is a fellow Psychcentral blogger, has worked in mental health for almost 20 years and has a confession, “I am an anxious traveler.”

Millions of people struggle with anxiety around traveling in one form or another and right now we’re in the peak period of the year in regards to air travel. I have a tip to help find freedom from anxiety that comes out of the new short enhanced eBook (fancy term that refers to an eBook including video instruction within the book available on IPad, Nook, and Kindle) Mindful Meditations for the Anxious Traveler. I created this $.99 enhanced eBook to be a mindful companion along the journey to more peaceful and restful travel:

Here’s the tip:

We’ve all heard the adage that “It is what it is,” but I like to add another piece saying, “It is what it is, while it is.” This speaks to a larger reality that whatever exists is impermanent, including our fear. When automatic worried thoughts of panic and worry begin creeping into your mind, saying “it is what it is, while it is” pops you out of autopilot, into the present moment, and reminds you that this feeling is impermanent. This reminder helps you to not get so wrapped up in it and can give you the choice to do a short mindfulness practice to calm your body and be kinder to yourself.

That’s what this is all about. We know that in between a stimulus and response there’s a space where the brain is rapidly making snap judgments and decisions about how to react. If there is a fear around travel, it’s going to be inserting judgments in that space through a worried lens.

Our work is to widen that space of awareness, calm our nervous system and get back in touch with our prefrontal cortex, the part of our brain that is more flexible in decision making and able to regulate our bodies in moments of distress.

In engaging short practices we can train our brains to believe that everything is going to be okay and that we’re not in any imminent danger.

Here’s a practice:

For example, one practice in Mindfulness Meditations for the Anxious Traveler is “The Mindful Check-In.” In this practice you’re guided to pause in the space of awareness and check in with your experience as an observer. You’re guided to see this moment as a new moment and get a sense of where you’re starting from. How is your body in this moment? What emotions are here, and is your mind cluttered or calm?

This widens the space of awareness, can often calm the nervous system and allows the possibility to insert the saying “It is what it is, while it is,” reminding you that you just got triggered into a mind trap and can now recognize the fear or anxiety that is currently there. The thoughts are not facts, but the feeling is. You can begin to recognize that the anxiety has a life of its own and is subject to the natural law that all things come and go.

Depending on the level of difficulty, that response could be engage in the greater art of distraction or maybe approaching the vulnerable feeling with warm presence of kindness and compassion. Inevitably this is the road to transforming the feeling and giving you a greater sense of self-reliance.

It was a joy to create Mindfulness Meditations for the Anxious Traveler and my hope is that it serves as a mindful companion being a source of ease, freedom from fear, and a healthier mind.

More than anything, see if it breaks up a habit, or allows for a new way of thinking or responding.

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom that we can all benefit from.

Anxious traveler photo available from Shutterstock.

 


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    Last reviewed: 29 Dec 2011

APA Reference
Goldstein, E. (2011). Mindfulness Meditations for the Anxious Traveler. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 25, 2014, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/mindfulness/2011/12/mindfulness-meditations-for-the-anxious-traveler/

 

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