The influence anxiety can have on us

August was a month of travel for me. I am making up for two years without a vacation.

In early August, my mom and I ventured to Stockholm, Sweden, to visit my brother, his wife and their new baby, Olivia.

Preparing for this trip was much more stressful than the trip itself. We stalked numerous websites to be sure we were following the travel rules. We had a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours of leaving. We packed and repacked our luggage to be sure our checked and carry-on bags were within weight limits.

Within hours of leaving for the airport, I noticed on the airline’s website that we need to wear disposable masks on the flight.

The airline does not allow cotton masks. These disposable masks also need to be recycled every four hours so I need to pack multiples. I admit, there were times that I wondered if this was all worth the hassle.

What if our preparation is not enough and we are denied access to our flights or into the country?

We arrived at O’Hare International Airport three hours early, walked right up to the ticket agent, checked one bag each and proceeded to security. The ticket agent did not even weigh our carry-on bags.

On the airplane, there was no face mask police and no one asked for proof of our negative COVID test. We arrived at my brother’s house 24 hours later with all of our luggage. What a perfect travel experience.

Preparation for this trip has reminded me of the power that fear can have if we let it. An acronym for fear is “false evidence appearing real.” I felt the realness of false evidence before we left America. I am so glad that I did not let that overwhelming anxiety overtake me.

How often do I quit or not even start because of the overwhelming fear that grips my mind? Fear creates made-up stories in my mind and pauses me from starting or moving forward.

Once we arrived at my brother’s house, I experienced a level of fear again as I ventured into the city to get groceries. Maneuvering public transportation alone in a foreign country is overwhelming. I am very thankful for the Google Translate app and the natives of Sweden who know Swedish and English very well.

I am not prone to anxiety however, I do have moments of panic.

“Do it scared” has become my motto. I cannot avoid the feeling of fear however, I can control how I react. I need to remind myself that the worst part of unknown adventures is planning for the events. The experiences themselves have proven to be smooth and empowering.

I am writing this article while in Sweden. Our return trip home is ahead of us. I am doing my due diligence early to be sure we are well-prepared. We have limited our souvenirs so that our luggage meets the weight requirements. We scheduled a COVID test the morning we fly home. We have reserved our Uber ride to the airport.

Regardless of what is ahead, I have no doubt that it will be exciting and empowering. We will come home with stories to share. I will have one week to prepare for our next adventure to the Bahamas.

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