Travelling Solo When You Have Anxiety

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It’s a Saturday night. You’re mindlessly scrolling through your Instagram when you chance upon a beautiful picture of some place unmarred by the hubbub of humans. You do your research and plan your entire trip in an instant. This is it, you think and call up your friends to share this exciting piece of information. Your happiness, however is short-lived when you realize your friends don't match your level of enthusiasm. So you bury that plan and move ahead with your life.

I write all of this after years of experience. Every time my friends displayed their indifference towards my well thought out plans, I felt dejected. A part of me just wanted to pack my bags and leave without anyone but something held me back. That something was anxiety. And I'm not talking about general anxiety that everyone faces every once in a while. It was a clinically diagnosed, crippling form of anxiety that made me feel like I was losing my mind. I don't want to get into the nitty-gritty of it and what caused it, but here's what used to happen every time I used to get a panic attack: I used to get a (literal as well as figurative) chill down my spine, there was a constant pressure around my head, my limbs used to get numb, there was an intense dizziness that made me feel like I'd collapse, chest pains, and destructive thoughts that changed at the speed of light in my head.

It hindered with my everyday life and was debilitating. The only thing that helped was being close to my loved ones. So, going alone to an unknown place, with no familiar face felt like a herculean task to me.

Apart from the usual navigational and logistical worries, my mind was occupied with morbid thoughts. I was panicking over getting a panic attack and never let my plans materialize.

Then one fine evening, on a whim, I booked my bus tickets from Bangalore to Hampi. I didn't plan anything. I just packed my bags and left. Much to my surprise, everything went smoothly and I came back home with a head full of happy memories.

Ever since then, I've travelled solo to several places and with each trip, I've learned ways to assuage my anxiety.

As counter-intuitive as it may sound, I've learned that the only way to mollify anxiety is by facing it head-on instead of trying to stop it. Let it happen and realize that it won't kill you. Of course this is easier said than done. It took me a while to come round to this fact but de-stressors like yoga and meditation immensely helped in accelerating the process. 

Another key lesson I've learned after travelling solo is that don't hesitate from asking for help. The world is kinder than the media makes us believe. As the great Dumbledore said, "Help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it." Trust your instincts and just reach out to strangers. 

Photo of Parvati Valley, Khir Ganga, Himachal Pradesh, India by Ishvani Hans

And lastly, I've learned where there's a will, there's a way. And this applies to not just travelling but everything else in life. If you have the zeal to explore a place, everything else will fall in place on its own. Don't be afraid to take risks, don't fret about what's yet to come. 

How do you feel about travelling solo? Write about it on Tripoto. Is something holding you back from travelling alone? These stunning travel videos will surely change your mind.

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