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Traveling during the holidays can be stressful especially for those who suffer from anxiety.  Between the large crowds and pressure to be on-time, it’s enough to send even seasoned travelers over the edge.  Don’t let anxiety ruin your travel plans, here are some tips to help calm your nerves.

Pack light

Worried about your bags not making the flight?  Squeeze everything into your carry-on luggage and bring it with you.  The less items you travel with, the less you’ll have to worry about.  Plus, most hotels offer laundry/cleaning service. While expensive, you can usually have a garment laundered or cleaned quickly if necessary.

Give yourself extra time

Traveling from point A to point B is a lot more stressful when you’re on a time crunch.  Make your life easier and get to the airport early.  Most airlines recommend arriving 2 hours in advance for domestic flights, 3 hours early if flying internationally.  This will give you plenty of time to go through baggage check and the security line without the fear of missing your flight.

Do your research

Many anxiety sufferers have a big fear of the unknown.  Thankfully, the internet has you covered.  Before you leave for your trip, research any landmarks you plan to visit along with basic directions to and from your hotel.  With Google Maps, you can even get a street view of your destination so you’ll feel less out of place when you get there.  It’s also helpful to read as many reviews as possible so you’re aware of the pros and cons ahead of time. If it’s the actual flight that’s causing you stress, check out a few in-flight safety videos so you know what to expect on-board.

Embrace distractions

An increasing number of airlines are offering in-flight entertainment to provide travelers a sense of comfort.  This is great news especially for anxiety sufferers.  Between Wi-Fi, satellite radio and movie offerings, you’re bound to find something to keep you distracted.  If your airline doesn’t offer these perks, you can always bring along your favorite book or magazine to occupy your time.  The more time you spend engaged in activities, the less time you’ll have to focus on your fears.

Breathe

When people are feeling anxious, they tend to take short, shallow breaths which is why you’ll commonly hear them say “I can’t breathe”.  If you feel yourself starting to get overwhelmed, take slow deep breaths.  Deep breathing exercises are known to reduce stress, lower your heart rate and clear your mind.  One simple technique is to inhale as much air as you can through your nose, hold it for a few seconds then release it through your mouth.  Repeat the process until you begin to feel calm.