How to Deal with Social Anxiety While Traveling
“Why are you sitting by yourself?” “Why don’t you want to hang out with everyone else?” “Are you just shy? Everyone here is nice.” These are the questions people ask over and over again. The same people who just do not understand that this little thing you’re dealing with called social anxiety is not so little. So what do you do when you’re miles away from the comfort of your own home, traveling with a group of people you don’t know? In this post I’m sharing 5 tips on how to deal with social anxiety when traveling with new people.
What is social anxiety? According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, the definition of social anxiety disorder is the “intense anxiety or fear of being judged, negatively evaluated, or rejected in a social or performance situation.” And when I say the anxiety gets bad, it gets bad. Dealing with social anxiety my entire life, I’ve figured out a thing or two on how to handle it whenever I’m in a situation at home. Here’s a video where I dive deeper into just:
However, how to deal with social anxiety when traveling is a completely new ball game. I recently went on a trip to Aruba with 15 people, 10 of which I’ve never met before. I went through a roller coaster of emotions and anxiety, but throughout that ride, I’ve figured a few things out.
Tip number 1: Do not let social anxiety stop you from traveling
Whatever you do, do not let your anxiety stop you from traveling and living your best life. Life is too way too short, and there’s a little saying you should always keep in mind: YOLO. Try to plan your trips months in advance so that you’ll have time to mentally prepare yourself. I highly recommend journaling. Grab a pen and paper, write down your thoughts and feelings about an upcoming trip, and jot down tips to help you get through it.
Tip number 2: Go with a Comfort Zone
On this big trip full of strangers, I brought a very close friend to me. This person was my comfort zone, someone who knew exactly what to do and say whenever I was beginning to panic. I cannot tell you enough how important this is. Dealing with anxiety is something we kind of drown in, and sometimes you need someone to pull you out of that thought process.
Tip number 3: Give Yourself Some Space
My trip to Aruba was not entirely smooth sailing. The first two nights were especially rocky, but that’s because I didn’t know how to handle staying at an Air BnB with people I’ve never met before. When things start to get overwhelming and when you start to feel an anxiety attack brewing, take yourself out of that situation. By giving yourself that room to breathe and clear your thoughts, it’ll help reset your mind and think a bit clearer.
Tip number 4: Keep Yourself Occupied
Be sure to plan your trip with different activities to keep yourself occupied. By staying busy, it’s almost like a distraction to keep you from thinking about your anxiety. This could involve sightseeing, going on tours, visiting museums. etc. This will also give you and the people you’re with things to talk about, and this will also make it easier to build connections.
Tip number 5: Remember that People are not Monsters
People will not go out of their way to hurt you. In fact, they can also be just as nervous to meet someone new. The thoughts in your head that are stemming from your anxiety can make any situation appear worse than it actually is. Just remember that it’s mostly fear of rejection. People love to talk about themselves. I recommend keeping a handful of questions up your sleeve to get a conversation going. Make sure you listen to what they say and find ways you can relate to them. Note: you will not get along with everybody, AND THAT’S OK! If someone is giving you an attitude and is very difficult to talk to, it’s not you, it’s them. Just speaking from experience, you’ll have a much better time spending your energy on people you click with rather than those you don’t.
Social anxiety sucks, but with the right tools and tips, you could get through the worst of it. I hope this was helpful!