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How exploring changed my life for the better

Hi, my name's Hannah, I suffer with anxiety and I’m also addicted to travelling. Anxiety is a condition which is still quite new to me, I don't shout it from the rooftops, but it's not something that I am ashamed of either. Suffering with it is a surreal experience for me; I’m an incredibly laid back person, but occasionally I start to feel tense, my head tingles, my breathing becomes tight, as anxiety takes its hold. When I'm at home I'd go and chill out in my own space, I'd mediate and calm myself down, however, this isn't always easy to do when I’m travelling.

My friends who suffer with Anxiety and in some cases also Depression often tell me that I’m brave to have gone travelling whilst suffering with this. However at times, I have felt less than brave; I had a panic attack at the gate just before I got on my first ever flight to Thailand, I remember texting my mum to tell her that I couldn't do it, no way, no chance, I couldn't go. It seems ridiculous to me now, thinking back to it but I had allowed the anxiety to infect my thoughts and it almost made me miss the experience that completely changed my life for the better. I decided right then and there, that there was no way I was going to let my anxiety affect my life again, I feel it often on the road, but I've accepted that travelling allows my body to feel all that life has to give me, and that also includes my anxiety.

After days of partying, not getting enough sleep and being constantly on the move I expect to be a bit frayed. I've spent bus journeys from Nicaragua to Costa Rica on the edge of a panic attack, I've felt that the air was too thick to breathe on the Thai Gulf, and I felt so out of it in Kuwait it was like I was walking in a dream. Despite all of these aspects of my anxiety, there's one thing that always brings me back to the moment; that is remembering that I am lucky enough to get to explore the world. I look out from bus windows when I feel claustrophobic and see the jungle cascading over hilltops, I open my eyes and see the sea glistening like a thousand diamonds whilst I'm standing upon its edge. I remember that I am here, in the moment. I breathe, I hold, I let go and I smile.

Sometimes, it's okay to be afraid, just as long as you accept it and then let it go. Enjoy the moment, enjoy the now and love every single second of it. Because of travelling I can now deal with my anxiety in a much better way; I don't need to remove myself from a situation to calm down; I just have to open up to it and know, that in the end it'll always be okay.

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