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Staying away from home
by TeenHelp December 2nd 2016, 02:45 PM

Staying away from home
By Cassie (Cassado)

While some people may find overnight stays to be fun and adventurous, others can feel intimidated, anxious, or uncomfortable with the idea of them. This anxiety can be difficult to deal with, but it can be alleviated through planning ahead. This article will suggest things you can do to decrease your anxiety when you have planned an overnight stay away from home.

Before you prepare for your trip, ask yourself what about staying away from home makes you anxious or uncomfortable. Do you have trouble sleeping in unfamiliar places, or do they make you feel unsafe? Knowing what makes you anxious can help you better prepare and cope with how you're feeling.

Planning

Try to plan as much of your trip as you possibly can. This will help keep you occupied and knowing what you are going to do while you're away can help ease your anxiety.

Think about what can increase your anxiety while you are on your trip and how you would most like to cope with it. For example, if bad drivers intimidate you, you could bring some of your favorite music or even make a specific playlist for that reason. While it is helpful to plan ahead, try to refrain from thinking of worst case scenarios as that can make your anxiety worse.

If you are traveling with someone you trust, consider telling them that staying away from home makes you anxious. Let them know how they can help so you don't have to deal with it on your own. If you are traveling by yourself, you can still tell someone about how you're feeling and make a plan to update them once in a while.

Packing

It is important to pack early so you have enough time to make sure you have all of the necessities for your trip. Pack things that will make you feel most comfortable during the time you are spending away. For instance, if an uncomfortable pillow can keep you awake, bring your own pillow instead. You can also bring your own blankets and sheets. Being physically comfortable while you are away will increase your likelihood of sleeping soundly with minimal anxiety.

You might benefit from packing comfort items so you will have a reminder of home while you're away. For example, you could pack a picture from your nightstand, a small nightlight, or a stuffed animal.

Also consider bringing any coping skills with you, such as self-harm alternatives or grounding techniques. If you struggle with self-harm or other urges, you might bring a stress ball, a coloring book, or some music to listen to. You could bring perfume or a fidget toy to help keep you grounded.

Traveling

If you are traveling with other people or are traveling in a way that does not require your undivided attention, bring things to keep you occupied during your journey. You can bring travel sized games, crossword puzzles, books, or movies to entertain and distract yourself until you arrive at your destination.

When struggling on the way to your destination, remind yourself about why you're going and pick a positive experience to look forward to. That might be trying a new restaurant or spending time with friends and family members.

Practice mindfulness if you are able to. Feel the bag of your luggage, the wind in your hair, and what the air feels like against your skin. Pay attention to the scenery. What do those nice flowers smell like? How do you think cooling off in the pool will feel?

Talk to yourself in your head or out loud. Tell yourself that this is hard, but you're being courageous by doing it. Give yourself a pat on the back because facing your fears is something to be proud of.

Staying overnight

Try to keep your routine similar to the way it is when you're at home. If you watch a movie or a certain show at night, watch something on the television. If you meditate, practice mindfulness, or pray, be sure to incorporate those things into your routine. Anything that is familiar to you is important, especially because your surroundings are different.

Make your room as safe and comfortable as you can. If it's too hot, put a fan on or open a window. If you need light to sleep, search for a nightlight or leave the television on for a while. If you brought safe objects or preferred necessities, as suggested above, utilize those.

If you get anxious or uncomfortable, think of your home and what you will do when you return. Will you spend time with your pets, or lay in bed with a book? Thinking of what you'll do when you get home will give you motivation to make it through until then.

Other things to consider

If you are close enough and able to return home, feel free to do so. You can plan to stay for a few hours before leaving. For instance, you can attend a family gathering and then leave before it gets dark so you can spend the night in your own home. Going back home won't take away from how hard you tried to cope with your travel anxiety. You can always work on your anxiety until you feel you are ready to try traveling again.

Staying away from home when you're struggling with anxiety or other negative feelings requires you to push yourself out of your comfort zone. While that is challenging, it is a healthy way of coping with your feelings by facing your fears. Bear in mind that leaving your comfort zone can reduce, or even heal, your travel anxiety with time. Remember that anxiety does not go away instantly. Be kind and patient to yourself in the meantime.
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