Last year I developed a really bad anxiety. It was hard to leave my house, go to work, sit in an office, see people… I thought every single time I would leave home I would die on my way to work. I could not focus on my work in the office, since I was already worried that because I didn’t die while getting there, it would happen on my way back. I was getting panic attacks just from thinking about having to speak to someone I didn’t know or even changing plans last minute. I can add so many different things to this list, but you already have an idea of what was going on. I felt completely paralised.
I was trying all the different things to help myself – meditation, CBT, counselling, yoga, gratitude journals etc. Nothing really made a difference. In late November, I was told to take some time off work, start the meds and chill. One of my colleagues advised me to get some winter sun somewhere outside the UK. My initial response was: I can’t treat this as a holiday! However, that night I got smashed (alcohol solves everything, right?..) and booked a very last minute flight to Portugal. I wasn’t even sure if I was going to make it since I had a doctor’s appointment that afternoon. Well as you can guess, I wouldn’t be writing this post if I didn’t make it.
I got to the airport just in time, booked some sort of accommodation for my first night in Faro while queuing to board the plane and I was off. I was freaking out – what on earth was I doing? What if I die in Portugal? What if I get panic attacks every time I go outside and I’ll have to sit inside my room all the time?
It turned out that leaving my usual environment was the best thing I could had done for myself. Finally, I had no responsibilities, other than to keep myself fed and enjoy the surroundings. I didn’t have to sit in my room feeling completely useless with no way out. I was still worried, but my mind was focused on different things and eventually I started feeling alive.
I spent my first night in Faro and caught the train to Lagos the next day. It was so quiet there! There weren’t any crowds and some beaches were completely empty. I walked a lot, I sat on the beach, read my book and breathed. I felt how more and more energy was coming back to me and I found myself finally smiling.
The scenery was absolutely stunning. I’ll share some photos, although perhaps don’t look at them if you feel sad about not being able to travel due to covid-19.
I met some girls on the beach who were also living in the UK and took a short break to get some sun. I could not believe it, I was talking to strangers and enjoying it! We spent couple of evenings together sharing the dinners and chatting. I was anxious and happy at the same time.
Four days passed quickly and I went back to the UK. Things weren’t back to normal, but the trip helped me to take a break from constant worrying and I felt slightly calmer when I returned. I think travelling helps to put things into perspective and reminds you that there is much more out there than just what’s going on in your head. And when you awake your senses (say with the cold ocean water) it doesn’t leave you any time to think, only time to feel.