An end of year holiday is the perfect end to jolly holiday season. But planning for said trip can be stressful. What if the kids get sick? What if you get sick? What if the weather is horrible? What If our luggage is lost? What if we suffer an injury?
Whether it’s the beach, the slopes or a safari, there’s always a chance of mishaps but some may be avoided.
Mind & Body has put together a handy guide on smart ways to sidestep health and safety issues while travelling abroad.
The kids have been kicking up a fuss all day. The hotel gave your room to someone else by mistake. The airline lost your luggage.
Such incidents can unleash a wave of intense stress even before you begin your holiday.
But it is important to cope with travel hiccups as stress can have a physical impact, such as weakening the immune system. This will make the person more prone to falling ill, said Mr Ooi Say Leong, a psychologist at National Healthcare Group Polyclinics (NHGP).
A sudden bout of stress can trigger asthma attacks – if you are a sufferer – as well as hyperventilation or panic attacks, he said. Dwelling on the stressful incident may make things even worse.
“If you keep thinking negatively about the incident, and blame yourself for the unpleasant experience during the trip, it is likely to increase your stress level and affect your mood during and, possibly, even after the trip,” he said.
For some, such negative emotions can cause symptoms such as headaches and stomach discomfort. Other telltale signs of stress include angry outbursts, a poor appetite and an inability to stay focused.
Ms Teresa Fong, chief psychologist of the Psychology Clinic at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, said a little stress is not harmful.
But, she said, prolonged stress can cause or exacerbate cardiovascular disease, obesity, eating disorders, menstrual problems and sexual dysfunction. Mr Ooi and Ms Fong shared some tips and stress-coping strategies.
- Allow plenty of time to reach a destination, and plan your itinerary well. Print maps of places you intend to visit, as well as useful phone numbers such as of the police and embassy. Back up important travel documents online, in case you lose them.
- Set aside time for rest during sightseeing, in case you or your travelling companions become anxious and need time to calm down.
- Don’t blame anyone or get angry about any mistakes made. Try not to react impulsively.
- Avoid indulging in alcohol, as this reduces your ability to assess the situation.
- Listen to relaxing music on your mobile device.
- Try this mindfulness breathing exercise when stressed:
1. Lie on your back or sit in a comfortable position. Close your eyes.
2. Focus on breathing. Take note of the thoughts about stressful events that enter your mind.
3. Imagine putting each thought on a cloud and allow it to drift across the sky. Repeat this with the next thought that comes to mind, without judging or analysing it further.
4. Whenever your mind wanders, try to be aware of it and gently bring your focus back to your breathing.
By Poon Chian Hui, The Straits Times, December 1, 2015