Monday 27 March 2017

Personal Advice from a Travelling Uni Student with OCD

As a lover of travel and long-term OCD sufferer, Jodie knows how the two can sometimes create an ugly mix making it harder to shhh that OCD bully inside your head. 
- Jodie Randell 

This article aims to assist anyone wishing to travel with OCD, by outlining some personal tips I have learnt. It is important to note that I am not a healthcare professional, and you should always consult a doctor for professional advice. 

Research your destination
I always hear people say it’s exciting to go to a destination blind-eyed but, in reality, that can create more problems than it’s worth. Researching your destination will minimise any unnecessary stresses that might push your OCD into alert mode! Find out simple things like the kind of laws and customs the country your visiting has, so you don’t stumble across any major surprises! Also, research more specific things, for example: if your travel insurance covers mental health; if your medication is legal and available abroad; if you're allowed to take any medication on the plane, and what mental health services are available at your destination. Be sure to check the FCO mental health page for more advice on travelling with a mental health issue.

Be aware of your fears, and rationalise them
Travelling can present OCD nightmares, such as fear of flying, fear of contamination or fear of being away from the ones you love. Ignoring these fears is much easier said than done, but if you try to rationalize the fears OCD creates, they should have far less of an impact on your wellbeing. If you’re scared of flying, look up information on the safety of flying, or take a fear of flying course. If you are unsure about eating abroad, research advice from the NHS on food abroad, or take some easy meals along such as porridge oats, which only requires boiling water, making it an quick and safe meal.

Keep in touch with friends and family
Talking to your loved ones and having a bit of a giggle can distract you and bring you back to reality, positively impacting your day and your OCD! For me, when my OCD gets really bad I know my friends and family can cheer me up by a simple chat on the phone. Also, don’t be afraid to make new friends – you can learn many things from different people, including being introduced to other cultures and ways of thinking.

Plan your first couple of days
I find my OCD is worse when I do not have a set schedule. This is because my mind has time to wander and stress about the smallest things. So, make a set plan for your first couple of days, or even the first week. This eliminates the panic of organising things on the day in an unfamiliar place, making your mind less vulnerable to OCD!

Have down time and save money for rest days
OCD can be an exhausting game! Make sure you treat yourself and be kind to your mind by not overworking it – this will make it stronger to tackle that pesky bully OCD creates! Take a day to read your favourite book, listen to your favourite music, or simply swing on a hammock in the breeze. Set money aside for these rest days; perhaps there is a hot spring or spa around the corner you can immerse yourself in!

OCD can be exhausting and tough, but let's not allow the OCD bully win by stopping us do the things we love!

Going on a year abroad, and not sure what to expect? Visit our Year Abroad resource for lots of information and tips to read before you fly off!

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