The day of my 14th birthday was also the day of my first panic attack.

It had only been a month since my dad passed away, and after weeks of mourning and constant pain, the occasion was a welcome way to feel normal again. But I didn’t feel normal. At all. My friends and I had gone out to dinner, and on our way home, I felt a sudden stabbing pain in my chest. I was dizzy, and my hands and feet were numb. Darkness crept over me and I struggled to breathe. I was rushed to emergency, where doctors ran a series of tests.

Apparently, I had had an anxiety attack. Really? Just a few hours earlier I had been enjoying my friends’ company. I was laughing, drinking, feeling good. ‘Maybe I should have had less to drink,’ I thought. ‘I am doing great. Maybe it won’t happen again.’ Wrong.  My first anxiety attack was followed by two more within a month’s time. Over the next 10 years I survived several more, sometimes due to stress, mostly for no particular reason. Thankfully, through years of education, counselling, and my family’s constant support, I learned how to cope with my anxiety. I’m not completely over it, but the intensity of the attacks has lessened. As a travel blogger, I still feel nervous before a trip, but I am in a way better position to cope with it today.   

Panic attacks are scary, and they can hit you fast. Shortness of breath, dizziness, and frequent bathroom trips are some of the most common symptoms. If you love to travel but suffer panic attacks, here are a few anti-stress travel tips to boost your confidence.

Download Your Boarding Pass

Long queues at airport ticket counters induce anxiety in a lot of people. Today, though, you can skip those lines by reserving your seat online and downloading your boarding pass before you get to the airport. Just save it to your phone and show it at your boarding gate. However, in case you lose your phone or your mobile wallet suddenly stops responding, take a printout. To that end put all your documents in a clear plastic pouch you keep in the front pocket of your handbag. That way you will know where to reach.

Book an Airport Limo in Advance

People with anxiety often feel nervous about reaching their terminal on time. The stress usually heightens when they are flying out late at night or in the wee hours of the morning. Pre-booking an airport limo or airport taxi reduces that stress. A professional chauffeur will collect you from your pick-up location and drop you off safely at your destination. Having worked in the industry for so long, they know the best ways to and from the airport, so you don’t need to stress about being late or getting lost.

Eat and Drink Healthy

You handle stress better when you eat and drink right. This is most important when you are travelling long distances. While it’s okay to enjoy drinks and caffeine in moderation, overindulgence can disrupt your sleep and increase your stress. Instead, try natural drinks like fresh fruit juices and lemon water. Also, avoid binge eating to curb stress, as it can lead to health issues and chronic disease. Try healthy snacks instead like protein bars, nuts, or whole fruits to keep you alert and energized.

Try Deep Breathing

Anxiety increases heart rate, high blood pressure, and hypertension. Deep breathing is an excellent way to relax, reduce tension, and relieve stress in your body. This is because inhaling deeply signals your brain to relax. Doing basic breathing exercises like alternate nostril breathing or Pranayama can make you feel better.

Remember, prevention is better than cure. A little planning, patience, and preparation can help you avoid many common anxiety-provoking scenarios. Simple yet useful, these tips should put your mind at ease in order to ensure a stress-free journey.