Don't Pack Your Stress
Don’t Pack Your Stress
Although most of us believe that vacations are supposed to be relaxing, the good ones also have a component of adventure. With an adventure, there is the possibility of things not going as expected. Many times, these unexpected changes add to the experience and can become the most memorable aspects of the trip.
With Parkinson’s disease, people generally can become anxious and stressed with travel, and unfortunately may avoid travel to both new and familiar places. This avoidance is unfortunate. Even though it may be comfortable to avoid possibly stressful situations, life will become empty and routine. Family members often suffer, as their lives are often limited by a person who consistently chooses predictability and comfort over the excitement and rewards of travel.
Your thoughts can reduce your worries
To travel with limited stress, the first step is to appreciate that things don’t always go as planned. Remember the following thoughts when worry sets in:
- We have effectively managed changes and challenges with travel in the past.
- So what if our timeline is changed a bit, if there is a problem?
- There are always people and agencies that can help us if something goes wrong.
- I will ask for special assistance if I need it.
- There are many other people with medical needs who also travel successfully.
- The memories and experiences from the trip will be worth the inconvenience and uncertainty.
- The best stories are about how adversity was overcome. This may be a funny or inspirational trip, in retrospect.
Plan the ideal trip
The next step is to visualize the trip you would like to have. The saying, “keep your eye on the prize,” applies here. Is the ideal trip a week of relaxation on the beach or the excitement of city life? If you plan with your interests in mind and imagine a good outcome, it is likely to happen. If you focus on bad outcomes, then you will accomplish those scenarios as well. Helpful thoughts include:
- I really enjoy seeing new places and meeting people.
- People are very helpful and understanding.
- I am fortunate to be able to travel, even if it is more difficult.
- These trips really bring family and friends together.
- I can’t wait to see the sights!
- I have several goals I would like to accomplish on this trip.
The third step is to prepare for likely complications, but understand there are things beyond our control in every aspect of life. It helps to make a travel checklist to prevent forgetting important things. Give yourself plenty of time to prepare. Healthy Travel contains more advice to help you prepare.
In general, anything you forget to take can be acquired when you get there. Of course, a priority should be given to making sure you are adequately supplied with your medications and that you have backup supplies in case luggage or belongings are lost. Helpful thoughts include:
- I am glad that I filled all my prescriptions before we left and we have kept an emergency supply should some be lost.
- It is helpful to have a prescription with me, in case I need to get more supplies.
- I will arrive early and leave plenty of time so I do not feel so pressured
- People with Parkinson’s have travelled there and do live in the area where we are going.
- My friends and family will help me if needed.
- No matter what challenge we face, people have successfully dealt with it before.
- Even if there are problems, it will not be catastrophic.
- I can use relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, muscle relaxations, and peaceful imagery to manage my stress.
Creature comforts can be helpful and sometimes it makes sense to pay a little more for a comfortable experience. Maybe you can splurge for first class trips, or personal transportation while travelling. It might be nice to take movies to watch, or schedule in a relaxing massage for tension relief. Make sure you schedule in some down time to relax, or just have some personal time. Remember that it always does work out!
Turn to the Travel series for more information on making your trip the best ever.
Enjoy your trip….
Author: Jeff Shaw, PsyD