Managing Travel Anxiety
From Covid Tests to Flying - How You Can Manage Stress and Tackle Travel Anxiety Post-Pandemic
Travel is a great way to rest, recover, and relax - particularly after a tough year of lockdowns and restrictions now that the world is beginning to open up.
But while it’s nice to be able to think about travel again, for many the anxiety of thinking about COVID-19 tests and what you need to do before booking a test and hitting the road might be something that stands between you and really getting away from it all.
To help hopeful travellers get on top of the obstacles and have a stress-free time, we’ve looked at the top searches across the UK and abroad relating to coronavirus. We have also partnered with psychologists to put together some tips, advice, and information to help you have a stress free trip.
Above all, make sure you schedule a coronavirus test in advance of travel to avoid delays, issues, and stress when it comes to the day you get moving.
Covid symptoms and PCR tests are the top searches relating to travel stress post-pandemic
From being uncomfortable in new surroundings, feeling anxious about the trip going smoothly and getting the correct Covid tests in time, travel can make anyone feel anxious.
We analysed the top elements of travel that the public is most concerned about and compiled a list of top tips to ensure a safe and stress free travel experience.
- Covid symptoms - With 1,970,000 global searches each month, covid symptoms is the most stress inducing element of travel for the public. The main symptoms are a high temperature, a new, continuous cough and a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste so if you have any of these symptoms, seek out the current government guidance, and start by getting a PCR test and self-isolating.
- PCR test - Each month, PCR tests sees more than 1,000,000 global searches. Waiting for and booking Covid tests from unknown providers can cause significant psychological stress. PCR tests, Fit to Fly tests and 2nd and 8th day tests are among the range of new testing requirements for travelling in 2021. To avoid anxiety around these, always book in advance and choose a trusted coronavirus testing clinic such as Corona Test Centre where tests are administered by medical professionals to ensure you are in good hands.
- Social distancing - Social distancing can be more difficult in crowded areas after a reduced social interaction between people in lockdown. Give yourself extra protection by continuing to wear a mask and trying to stay as far away from people as possible.
- Hygiene - From hand washing to sanitiser, hygiene has been an imperative part of managing the spread of the Covid-19 virus so it’s unsurprising that 205,000 people search it each month. You can keep yourself protected by maintaining a regular hand washing routine, and always carrying hand sanitiser and a spare face mask.
- Antigen test - These tests are a great way to get a rapid result in just 30 minutes, if you're feeling stressed about having the virus.
- Antibody testing - Antibody tests are helpful to give us a better understanding of the virus in different places, but these tests are not used for diagnosis, and shouldn’t be your go-to choice if you’re trying to clear yourself for travelling safely. However, there are some countries that require an antibody test as part of their entry requirements.
- Waiting for Covid Tests - Waiting for Covid test results can cause psychological stress. It's important to realise that while you can't control the results of their test, you can control how you deal with the waiting time and the result.
- Negative thoughts - It’s easy to fall into a cycle of negative thoughts during this stressful period, but you should try to avoid dwelling on difficulties. If you find yourself regularly focused on the negatives, consider reaching out to a mental health professional or trusted friends and family for support.
- Fear of Flying - Not all fears with travel are directly related to coronavirus. After a period of not travelling, it can be worrying getting back on a plane. Breathing exercises and meditation can help support with any stress you may be experiencing.
- Home test kit - Home test kits are a great way to help reduce any anxiety over coronavirus symptoms you might be facing. While doing home test kits yourself may seem intimidating at first, choosing a trusted provider like Corona Test Centre ensures get the most accurate result possible and ease feelings of stress prior to a trip..
The top tips for managing stress and anxiety when travelling post-pandemic
Meditation is a great way to combat anxiety which accompanies flying and travel. It can help to calm and ease the mind and meditation skills can be worked on and improved with time.
Dr. Rachel M Allan, Chartered Counselling Psychologist at Rachelallanconsultancy.com, comments:
“Stress and low mood may inhibit the hippocampus, which is an important brain structure associated with memory formation and recall. Effective stress management could therefore be an important consideration for looking after memory function. Mindfulness practice is known to reduce stress and depression.”
Lee Chambers MBPsS, Environmental Psychologist and Wellbeing Consultant says:
“Using mindfulness or meditation to increase your wellbeing is something that should certainly be considered. It’s effect on the amygdala has been researched, and by practicing we become more able to disengage from ruminating negative thoughts, and connect to the present. It can decease cortisol levels, and decrease inflammation markers, which leaves us feeling more relaxed and able to deal with the rigours of the current turbulent climate.”
- Physical Exercise
When feeling agitated or stressed during travel, any form of physical exercise such as taking a short walk can be great for easing nerves.
Ruth Cooper-Dickson, Positive Psychology Practitioner at Champsconsult.com, says:
“Any form of exercise and being active is beneficial for the hippocampus - which is the part of the brain that acts like a brake on the stress response.
“Exercise is great for activating GABBA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid) - this is an amino acid whose purpose is to calm the brain and act as a fire extinguisher to enable brain cells to suppress their activities. GABBA activation provides quick and effective stress relief.”
- Distract yourself with a tv show or movie.
If you feel yourself becoming anxious or frustrated, distract yourself with your favourite movie or an episode of a new or comforting show. Make sure you download these ahead of time to avoid any connection issues, which can aggravate your feelings of stress.
Andy Phillips, Head of Training and Content at Escape Fitness says
“Watching films and television shows on your phone can act supplemental forms of therapy to help us feel better. Cinema therapy, the use films to manage mental health issues, can improve thoughts and feelings. There are films that can evoke positive emotions and can nurture interpersonal skills.”
- Ease anxious thoughts with music.
Consider listening to comforting music to fill your head with more pleasant emotions. This can also help to act as a circuit breaker for stressful thoughts
“Music requires following patterns, drawing from memory and engaging with multi-sensory feedback. It draws on many different high-level brain functions at the same time, which strengthens connections between different regions of the brain,” says Dr. Rachel M Allan.
- Prioritise your down time by focusing on a puzzle or task.
Puzzles are a great way to take your mind off feelings of anxiety or stress
According to Dr. Rachel M Allan, “Engaging with tasks that require a combination of attention, recall and problem solving is a great way to keep cognitive function healthy, and reduce the rate of any decline. Research shows a clear link specifically between regularly completing crossword puzzles and reduced memory decline.”