I returned from my trip out of the country. Everything was fine and rather typical of when I have made similar trips in the recent past, but I want to share a few observations I had.
Every time I have to travel out of state or out of the country, I feel confident planning the trip because the trip would be several weeks in the future. As the date would draw nearer, I would experience increasing anxiety until the morning of; then I would experience great anxiety with many symptoms. The symptoms would fade once I was on my way. Hopefully they would fade to near zero, but sometimes I would have lingering anxiety and especially dizziness (and fear) until I returned home.
This time, I made a conscious effort to change my thinking. To try and calm myself I would usually think "I can get home easily" (if not quickly). I would tell myself the odds of something going wrong on the trip were extremely unlikely. I would force myself to think "everything is alright". Although this might be a successful strategy in the short-run, I feel long term this was not helping me. This time, I tried to keep my thoughts echoing the idea that things might go wrong, I might experience extreme anxiety, I might be in uncomfortable situations but I would survive. I tried to accept all that could happen and just know I would be OK regardless if I handled it well or not. Not running from the fears. Accepting the anxiety.
At one point I was suddenly stuck in some crazy traffic in the heart of a big city, and in a heartbeat I felt a rush of anxiety and fear sweep over me. Some soft of bus was blocking the intersection and more and more cars will arriving making it quite a mess. I did my deep breathing and reminded myself it was ok to feel nervous. I wanted to think "traffic will move again soon so it is OK" but rather I tried to think "sitting here is no immediate danger to myself so I am just going to exist". Traffic started moving again and the anxiety left.
Although I didn't do anything exceptionally challenging or brave this trip- I am going to put this one in the "win column" (so to speak) because I managed to keep more productive thoughts. I believe thinking this way long term will help reprogram my brain and bring me more confidence more easily on future trips.