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 for many, the anxiety which accompanies the new travel regulations such as COVID-19 tests and varying restrictions can hold us back from booking that well-deserved break.
To help hopeful holiday-lovers get on top of the obstacles and have a stress-free time, Corona Test Centre has 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.
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 Allan, chartered counselling psychologist at Rachel Allan Consultancy, 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 well-being consultant says: ‘Using mindfulness or meditation to increase your well-being is something that should certainly be considered. Its effect on the amygdala has been researched and, by practising, we become more able to disengage from ruminating negative thoughts and connect to the present. It can decrease cortisol levels and decrease inflammation markers, which leaves us feeling more relaxed and able to deal with the rigours of the current turbulent climate.’
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 Champs Consulting, says: ‘Any form of exercise and being active is beneficial for the hippocampus – which is the part of the brain that acts as 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 as supplemental forms of therapy to help us feel better. Cinematherapy, the use of 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 Allan.
Prioritise your downtime 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 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.’
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