If you are someone that experiences travel anxiety, then you’ve probably missed out on a lot over the years. Maybe you’ve missed birthdays. Perhaps you haven’t been there for weddings. You’ve watched your friends travel the world without you. Or you may even have missed out on the funeral of someone who was close to you. Travel anxiety can be debilitating, and prevent us from participating in events and experiences that are important to us. But like any anxiety, travel anxiety can be treated, and shouldn’t be the cause for you to miss out on things. Let’s take a look at travel anxiety, and the ways in which pets can help to fight it.
What is Travel Anxiety?
Travel anxiety is common. It is a specific type of anxiety that occurs before, during or after traveling, making an individual feel overly worried and panicked, without a definable cause. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health problem that our population experiences, with statistics saying that up to one third of American struggle with some form of the issue.
Causes of Travel Anxiety
Travel anxiety can take many forms, whether generalized anxiety about traveling in a different country, social anxiety related to interacting with new people, or even pre-travel feelings of anxiety about your trip. One of the most widespread and well-known forms of phobia specific travel anxiety is fear of flying. The causes of travel anxiety are as diverse as our personalities are, so never think that your feelings are not valid! It’s also important to note that anxiety is treatable, and you don’t have to suffer in silence with it. If anxiety is affecting your life, you should speak to a therapist, doctor or loved one about it.
How Pets Can Ease Anxiety
One of the greatest ways to ease travel anxiety without resorting to heavy medications that can make you feel totally out of it is by traveling with a pet. Pets can help to bring your anxiety levels down simply through their presence, and the amazing effects that they can have on your body.
It is well-known that pets can have dramatic effects on the body, simply from their being around us. In a recent survey, 74% of pet owners reported mental health improvements from pet ownership, and 75% of pet owners reported a friends or family member’s mental health improved from pet ownership. Interacting with animals has been shown to dramatically reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which is something that can worsen anxiety. They have also been shown to up the levels of feel good chemicals in our brain, which can assist with overcoming anxious feelings.
Another way that our pets are able to effectively reduce anxiety is their grounding presence, which can help to bring us back to the present moment. Having a pet with you can be one of the ultimate practices of mindfulness—with you furry helper there, you’ll be able to focus on the feeling of your pet by your side, and not be consumed in an endless cycle of anxious thoughts.
The Best Way to Beat Travel Anxiety: Take an ESA!
Traveling within the U.S., it is generally super simple to take your pet with you to help ease your anxiety. Plus, if you have anxiety then you’re probably eligible for an emotional support animal or ESA, which ensures that you can bring your pet in the cabin to keep you company if you have anxiety around flying. Getting a current or new pet documented as an ESA is a relatively simple process if you are struggling with an anxiety disorder. After discussing your concerns with a therapist, they will work out an appropriate treatment plan for your needs (learn more). Then, you can ask if an ESA could be a suitable treatment option for you to help to ease your travel anxiety. If your therapist agrees to an ESA as a treatment option, they will then draw up an ESA letter, which confirms that you need your pet with you for medical reasons. This will allow you to fly with your pet in the cabin of an aircraft.
Travel anxiety, like any anxiety, can hold us back from doing the things we love. But, in reality, anxiety can be beaten, especially travel anxiety! An excellent natural way to overcome this debilitating mental illness is by taking your pet along with you to help soothe yourself and manage your emotions, without the heavy drugs. Try a natural aid to improve your anxiety today.