Life Free of Anxiety

Tips for Anxiety Free Holiday Travel

December 04, 2023 Erica Roth & Dr. Charles Barr of CHAANGE Season 1 Episode 14
Life Free of Anxiety
Tips for Anxiety Free Holiday Travel
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Overcoming Anxiety During Holiday Travels

In this episode of the Life Free of Anxiety Podcast, hosts Erica and Dr. Charles Barr discuss the impact of holiday stress and adjusting to different circumstances during festivities due to the pandemic. They emphasize the importance of managing expectations and dealing with the fear of breaking traditions. The discussion then pivots towards overcoming anxieties related to holiday travel, focusing on bringing comfort and relaxation throughout the process. Strategies suggested include visualization techniques, the use of medication if necessary, and reshaping negative thoughts into positive ones. They also discuss the benefits of the CHAANGE Anxiety Treatment Program in overcoming these stresses and anxieties.

0:00    Tips for Anxiety Free Holiday Travel
02:07 The CHAANGE Program and Managing Expectations
03:05 Holiday Travel Anxiety: Tips and Techniques
05:01 Dealing with Claustrophobia and Trapped Feelings
08:06 Medication and Alcohol: Pros and Cons
16:01 Closing Thoughts and Encouragement

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S01E14 - Tips for Anxiety Free Holiday Travel

[00:00:00] Erica: The holidays and stress part three

[00:00:02] Intro Music

[00:00:02] Erica: Welcome to the Life Free of Anxiety Podcast, where each week we'll bring you another discussion to help you on your way to overcoming your fears. I'm Erica and together with Dr. Charles Barr, a licensed clinical psychologist, specializing in anxiety, we'll be your guides on this journey. Because you are not broken, you are not alone.

And you are on your way to living a life free of anxiety.

Coming off a very strange Thanksgiving. I will say it was strange, but not bad. Welcome back. I was going to have a Thanksgiving episode for you last week, Dr. Barr and I recorded it. It was good. It was supposed to bring you a lot of thankfulness and cheer and things to ponder. And in the end it did not record.

So that's why you didn't hear from us. A lot of times the show is a lot to do, but we do it because we really, really love the idea of helping people from all over. With that said it is a little stressful sometimes when things go wrong, which they do. I am actually curious what your Thanksgiving looked like. Mine looked totally different, because I've never done anything different than be at my aunt's house in a different city and celebrate with all my cousins. And this year was a very quiet dinner at my mom's house down the street. And that was interesting. It was interesting because it wasn't bad. I was so afraid of breaking tradition. We drove like an hour and a half last year with my less than one-year-old son to get down to Thanksgiving in the rain, to make sure I was there.

And I remember one of my cousins going, wow, you came all the way out here in the rain I wouldn't have with the baby. But we did. And I think, you know, looking back, I'm glad we did, and that was fun, but I had no idea how much pressure I put on myself for these holidays to keep tradition up until this year.

[00:02:07] The CHAANGE Program and Managing Expectations

[00:02:07] Erica: The CHAANGE Program talks a lot about this. There's a week where we really talk about how do you stop with the expectations?

I did the CHAANGE Program so long ago, so it just goes to show you, you still keep learning after you do the program, but you have these moments where you realize, Oh, life is always changing and we always can have these expectations, especially anxious type people who have these expectations of how things should go. But even me who should know this from doing the program is still learning, but able to point back to the program and saying, Oh, that's what we're doing. We're regrouping. We're making different plans that are still okay.

 But let's get to this episode. It is a really good one. If you want more information on the CHAANGE Anxiety Treatment Program, you can always go to change with two A's dot com. 

All right, let's get to today's episode with Dr. Barr and myself.

 Welcome back to part three on the holidays. 

[00:03:05] Holiday Travel Anxiety: Tips and Techniques

[00:03:05] Erica: This episode will specifically cover tips on holiday travel and the anxieties that can come with it and how to get through it. Most importantly,

[00:03:12] Dr. Charles Barr: A couple of, um, comfort things. I really want people to try to stay relaxed during the whole process. So you picture yourself driving to the airport and you're feeling relaxed while you're going and you picture yourself, uh, getting your luggage out and getting it, um, check Dan.

And you're feeling relaxed in that process. And you're standing in line for the TSA and you're feeling relaxed in that process. Then you're waiting at the gate and you're relaxed while you're there. Then you get on the plane and you're relaxed as you get in the plane, the door closes and you're feeling relaxed and calm.

So you're, you're taking yourself through every aspect of the trip. The first thing that the airline tells you to do is to buckle your seatbelt. And I want you to put great significance in buckling your seatbelt, um, where you buckle your seat belt, and now you're trusting your seat to keep you safe. So I, I want you to relax into the seat and let the seat do the work for you and the more, uh, lamp and relaxed and dish rag, like you can be in that seat, the better the seat works for you.

And as soon as you class that, uh, seat belt, say to yourself that this is my safety, as long as my seatbelt is classed, um, I'm safe in this airplane. Let that work for you because you're safe there. You're, you're not in any jeopardy just because you hit some turbulence and you're not in any jeopardy, just being in the air period.

Right. You know, you're safe in that seat and the airplane's going to get you where you want to go. 

[00:05:01] Dealing with Claustrophobia and Trapped Feelings

[00:05:01] Erica: What about somebody who's dealing with feeling claustrophobic or trapped? What kind of things could they tell themselves? 

[00:05:08] Dr. Charles Barr: If they're feeling claustrophobic and trapped, then they're going to be feeling quite anxious.

If they're getting into an airplane. That's, that's part of the problem with, with a lot of people who have trouble flying is, is they feel that trapped feeling. And, um, so it's important for you to change what you're saying to yourself, you know? Oh no, I'm trapped in here. It's like, well, no, I chose to get on the airplane.

You know, I'm, I'm not trapped here. I chose to be here and this by choosing to be here, I get to go and do some very fun things on the other end of this that I've been looking forward to doing for a long time. And so there's a lot of good that's going to come from this. It's not just that you're trapped.

Uh, and you're perfectly safe. Uh, it's also, you know, you're. Uh, Oh, well, what if I can't get enough air while I'm in here? I'm feeling like I can't breathe. It's like, yes, there's plenty of oxygen here. I can breathe. Just fine. So it's very important how the person is talking to themselves to change how they're talking.

And that would be a good time to be doing some breathing, to let their body relax, to not trigger all the, the stress hormones. Um, And, and the breathing can be very, very helpful to take a deep breath, let it out slowly and speak, calm and relaxed to yourself. It's also, it's also can be very helpful to picture yourself being somewhere completely other, uh, we call it, um, you know, using your imagination, but in your imagination, take yourself somewhere completely different.

Yes, you're in the airplane, but, uh, you could be imagining yourself lying on your favorite beach. You could imagine, you know, that 

[00:07:11] Erica: might be, that might be the time that I pull out Dr. Barr's, um, beach, relaxation, CD, or disc, because he has 

[00:07:22] Dr. Charles Barr: a great put that on and remind yourself what it, what it's like to be there, because what, what your brain is hearing.

And what your mind is picturing takes your body there. Experientially, even though your body may still be sitting in the seat, your, your body's going to respond as though you're on the beach because you're picturing being on the beach 

[00:07:42] Erica: and practice makes perfect. So doing you really can't do those relaxation exercises too much 

[00:07:49] Dr. Charles Barr: to get your body the better they work.

And, and it takes practice to get good at those. So we would want people to, to start early in practicing. What if, what if you don't have time to do this? What if you don't have time to before your trip? 

[00:08:06] Medication and Alcohol: Pros and Cons

[00:08:06] Dr. Charles Barr: Um, I would say, talk with your doctor about getting some medication to help you on the trip. I would much prefer you take, um, some medication to help you then to use alcohol, but a lot of people use alcohol to travel.

Yes, it's 

[00:08:22] Erica: strange to me. I feel like that can really, for me, I feel like that would make me more anxious. I mean, it can have that effect. It does on me. It would make me more anxious. And that's, that's always something to, that could really happen to anyone that people should be aware of too. That it might just because it relaxed you once doesn't mean it will relax you every time.

[00:08:41] Dr. Charles Barr: Well, that's right. Um, and unfortunately then, then, uh, over time then it takes more and more alcohol to get you to the same place where you're feeling comfortable. Yeah. So, uh, that can be a dangerous situation. Yeah. So if you're having that kind of anxiety and you have to travel, then I would say, talk with your doctor about getting some medication to help you on the trip.

[00:09:06] Erica: Like Xanax, is that what you mean by medication 

[00:09:08] Dr. Charles Barr: or some Xanax or, or Adavan or Klonopin? One, one of those three, because those are very effective. And, um, they're designed for short-term use mostly. And the doctors usually don't have trouble prescribing that for trouble. I mean, for travel. Okay. So 

[00:09:26] Erica: there's, there's no judgment or shame and needing to take something like that to get somewhere.

There's nothing wrong. 

[00:09:34] Dr. Charles Barr: Not in my, not in my mind. Anyway, I see, I see medication like that as a tool. It's a tool for you to use, and if it helps you get there and be comfortable and have a good trip, then I think that's a good tool to have and a good thing for you for a person to use. It can, can make a difference in having a terrible flight or having a wonderful flight.

And so if that's the difference it's going to make, I'm all for you using it. 

[00:10:05] Erica: What about when somebody is feeling the 

[00:10:08] Dr. Charles Barr: urge 

[00:10:09] Erica: right before the plane. I know it's very common that a lot of people feel okay until they know the door's going to shut on the airplane. Do you have any tips for getting through that?

[00:10:19] Dr. Charles Barr: Well, um, I think that catches some people off guard, you know, it's like, well, I was doing just fine until they closed the door. Um, and then they start getting panicky. Yeah. And, um, I would encourage them to talk to themselves and imagine what it's going to be like when the door closes that in fact, if they look around the plane, everyone else in the plane seems to be just fine.

There's no generalized panic that the door just closed. Most people are doing just fine and that they will do just fine too. And it's important to, to picture that before you get there. Now, if, if the panic starts, I want you to do what you need to do. If you have, uh, if you have medication, take the medication before you, uh, get on the plane so that you've already got that in your system.

If you don't have medication, then I want you to talk to yourself about. Relaxing about breathing. Um, I want you to touch your seatbelt and remind yourself that you're safe and you're, you're, you're going to be completely safe. And that this is a safe way of travel. Um, millions of people do it every day, and this is a completely safe way of travel.

Right. And start talking different words to yourself. I have plenty of air. I can breathe. Fine. Yes, your heart is beating like crazy, but remind yourself, I'm having a fight or flight reaction. This is just adrenaline. And that's going to wear off in just a little while. 

[00:11:58] Erica: Yeah. And I heard something about one time.

That was, I thought it was really good advice about when the door was about to close. Somebody told themselves that's good. That's what you want. Because the sooner the door closes, the sooner we get the show on the road. And then I get to my destination. So expecting that door shedding is a positive thing because it's going to move you forward and you're going to end up, um, uh, also, um, they recommended imagining.

What you were going to see that you wanted to see when you landed. 

[00:12:31] Dr. Charles Barr: Very good. Yeah. I think that's great. It's a necessary step. Yeah. The sooner they get the door closed sooner we get going. Correct. And 

[00:12:41] Erica: then, you know, time passes. So, I mean, if you think about it a day goes by so fast and our coast by so fast, a minute goes by so fast.

So really in the end, you're not spending. A significant amount of time in the plane, 

[00:12:56] Dr. Charles Barr: you 

[00:12:56] Erica: know, even on your longest flight, you really, you're really not spending a significant amount of your life in the air in the end. Ultimately, although my 

[00:13:06] Dr. Charles Barr: field at the time, um, while you're going through it, it can seem like it it's a never ending process, but in fact, it's, it's only a short time, right.

Um, if you're traveling within the United States, Um, it, your prompt, you can go coast to coast in about five hours. If you have a nonstop flight. So five hours is a long time if you're panicking, but if you're doing something that distracts you and, uh, You're watching a movie you're playing your favorite game.

You're reading magazine or reading a book. Uh, you're talking with friend, whatever you're doing, um, eating snacks, be sure and take some snacks so that you've got some food that, that is comfortable for you. Um, don't just eat sugar, uh, stay away from caffeine at that point. Um, you know, just get some healthy food in you.

Um, and you're, you're gonna, it's going to go quickly. Yeah. Um, some people like to sit by the window. I, I actually like to sit by the window because it gives you a view that you get nowhere else. Now, sometimes as soon as you take off, you get a cloud cover and you see nothing until you land except clouds.

So I feel a little disappointed when that happens, but you also can see some, some. Uh, very interesting cloud formations and things down there. So that can be very fun actually, if you, if it's okay for you to be looking right, and that's up to each individual. 

[00:14:44] Erica: Yes, for me, I don't like to look either like to distract myself and okay.

I don't really need to see how high up I am. It doesn't matter. And that's, for me, that's how I get by it. 

[00:14:55] Dr. Charles Barr: Easier. Yeah, that's interesting because I rarely, I rarely think about how I, how high up I am. And I think about how unusual your looks, but they're 

[00:15:07] Erica: definitely a different perspective. It is. It's generally really, I mean, I watched this YouTube video recently of people who were taking their first flight and some of them were adults and they had been apprehensive or what have you.

And one woman, I know she was like, She was saying, Oh, I couldn't believe how beautiful it was. It was just so beautiful. And I was like, that's cool. You know, from I've I have flown for, you know, my first flight when it was, when I was six years old. And I forget that for somebody, for seeing it, you know, seeing it for the first time, 

[00:15:43] Dr. Charles Barr: what 

[00:15:43] Erica: it's, it's, it's amazing.

I mean, it really is amazing that we get to do it, so 

[00:15:48] Dr. Charles Barr: yeah. It's not like anything else we see any other place. I mean, we can see it in pictures, but yeah. It's, um, it's different when you're seeing it for yourself. For real. Yeah. Yeah. 

[00:16:01] Closing Thoughts and Encouragement

[00:16:01] Dr. Charles Barr: That's, that's pretty exciting. Now. That's the other thing is change your anxiety to excitement.

It's like, wow. I'm really excited about taking this plane flight. Well, you're feeling a little bit anxious, but if you can turn it to excitement. Excitement and anxiety run on the same pathway. And so turn it to the excitement. I'm very excited about taking this flight, um, that, that puts a real positive spin on it and, and gives you positive energy instead of scary negative energy.

Yes. So I hope our listeners that are going to be fine, uh, wished them a wonderful travels. I would like to think that they would have no delays and no canceled flights and no wintery weather, but I know they're probably going to have some of those. And, um, so enjoy the. Enjoy the, the new and novel that comes with that.

Um, it's going to challenge you to use your resources and that's a good thing for your brain. Um, so it's all a great adventure. 

[00:17:06] Erica: Thanks so much for tuning in today. I hope that something in today's conversation provided you with a feeling of hope, determination, or purpose. I know what you're going through, and that's why I want to give you some of the tools that helped me in my anxiety journey to get a free copy of free from fears head to to find out more about the CHAANGE Anxiety Treatment Program.

Find us at Thanks again for listening. And remember you are not broken You are not alone and you are on your way to living a life free of anxiety. See you next week.

Holiday Travel Anxiety: Tips and Techniques
Dealing with Claustrophobia and Trapped Feelings
Medication and Alcohol: Pros and Cons
Closing Thoughts and Encouragement