Anxiety and fear are often, for me, the results of overthinking. Sometimes I have to stop thinking just long enough to take three steps.
For me, when I see a pier or a cliff, I get excited. Safely on land, I think – how great!? I’m going to get to experience the bliss of soaring for a few seconds before swimming – and I love swimming! How great will that view be?! And that experience?! I’ll have it forever!
But then I have to take my first few steps up. And the railing is too shaky. The kids are moving too fast. The steps are too slippery. The line is too long. I’m never going to make it up there – I’ll probably fall before I reach the top, I’ll hit my head on the concrete on the way down, and then what?!
But my feet keep moving.
Thankfully, I’ve had my husband, Mark, to fearlessly lead the way the last few adventures. Enough to keep my feet moving.
And, before I know it, I find myself at the top. And it’s beautiful! The view from the top is simultaneously beautiful and dizzying and I have to step back to even think straight. When I can’t step back, I panic. My breath quickens and I feel hyperventilation coming on.
And that’s when I trick myself.
I pretend I’m taking the deep breath in in order to calm down, but instead, I just go. And before I know it, I’m flying through the air and in less than the time it took me to think about screaming, I’m already in the water.
In these moments, and so many of my moments travelling, I’ve had to judge the weight of my intuition and analyze where it’s coming from. There are some moments when my heart says “hell no – no chance, this is not safe and we’re not doing this” and I will listen – every time. It’s the sensation I feel when the reptilian part of my brain says “FLIGHT.” I literally feel it coming from the area where my neck meets my hairline.
There are other times when my heart says, “shit – why am I doing this, this is terrifying!” and it weighs differently on my body. There’s a different cadence to my quickened heartbeat – I feel the weight in my chest and on my brain like a headband – from ear across the top of my head to the other ear, and I know I am scared. Scared of what could happen, yes, and an understanding that I should be scared – I’m about to do something courageous, adventurous, and brave!
Occasional anxiety and fear is normal part of life for everyone. There is a difference between the experiences of uneasiness and anxiety disorders, to be sure, but there are ways to deal with both while travelling and allowing yourself to live the life you deserve.
When presented with the opportunities to be adventurous,
- Take just a second to feel the sensation in your body. Where is it stemming from? Where do you feel it most? Lean into the feeling. Parse through the nuances to determine if it’s genuine fear for safety or an opportunity to be brave.
- Ignore all of the situational outcomes your brain is devising. Your brain is determining all the ways this could go awry. That’s it’s job! At the end of the day, fear stories stem from the possibility of having our joy taken away. They are thoughts and feelings. In this moment, your body needs love and action. Come back to the body.
- Engage that body. Take the first step forward. Too much? Take that first step back, feel your body following your directions, and use that to launch your body forward like a runner about to steal third base.
Travel and adventure are inherently about stepping out of your comfort zone. My comfort zone is in my head where it’s nice and safe, however my proudest moments are always the result of stepping out of that safe space, into vulnerability, into my body, and into adventure. The first small step begets the second small step, and before you know it, you’re flying.
Where do you feel your fears?
Do you feel them in different places?
What do you do to overcome fear and anxiety while traveling?
Who Am I?
Originally published at www.readroamrepeat.com