How To Cope with Travel Stress – Be Aware
by Bruce W Bean, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist
A previous article (click here) covered the importance of establishing a foundation of ACCEPTANCE regarding travel stress. Stress is a natural part of life and a very natural part of traveling. You are not going to be able to totally avoid stress – even on the most relaxing of vacations. Accepting that stress happens is the most basic key to coping with stress. If you fight stress – it just gets worse. Acceptance allows you to move on. With acceptance as a foundation you can move on to develop other additional techniques and skills to help cope with travel stress.
Be Aware Of Your Stress
Stress can be sneaky. It comes in various shapes and forms. We each experience stress in different ways. If you are going to become more effective at coping with stress then it is important to be aware of your current state. Don’t be so preoccupied with the external world and your adventure that you ignore and neglect paying attention to your internal personal condition. Stress will sneak up on you if you aren’t careful. Stress is more easily managed when it is small. Become AWARE before your level of stress becomes overwhelming or uncomfortable. The best way to become aware is to pay attention – pay attention to your body and what it is saying to you. Are you experiencing symptoms that signal the onset of increasing stress?
What are the symptoms that are associated with stress? The list can be long – but here’s a start. Headache, stomach ache, hot flashes, memory problems, inability to fall asleep, inability to remain asleep, bad dreams, hand tremor, “nervous twitches”, difficulty paying attention, problems with concentration, loss of appetite, over eating, decrease of libido, hyper vigilance, low motivation, confusion. Yes the list does go on. Now no one is going to experience all of these things. Symptoms vary from person to person and situation to situation. And of course, each of these symptoms can be caused by things other than stress. Symptoms are like warning signals – little red flags that indicate that something is amiss. But, if you are otherwise healthy, these symptoms may indicate that you are experiencing stress.
For the traveler it’s wise to be alert for the onset of these potentially stress related symptoms. Learn to notice and detect them early. The sooner you realize you are becoming stressed the sooner you can begin to do something to better cope. Left unaddressed, stress symptoms tend to escalate and become more intense. As with most problems, stress can be better managed early when it is a minor irritation rather than later when it has become a more major difficulty. Be aware of your situation, your body, your mood, and your general state. Awareness is the early warning system for stress management.
In future articles I’ll continue exploring ways to better cope with travel stress. One step at a time. Be patient – don’t rush (not a bad coping strategy actually). For now, work on reminding yourself that stress is natural, and start to pay attention to your body and what it is telling you. Both of these tasks involve increasing your Awareness. As you will see – awareness plays a central roll in stress management.
Be Aware ………… And Enjoy The Adventure!
Additional Articles of Stress Management for Travelers