There’s still time to plan a family getaway with your kids — even after they start school.

Yet, getting back to normal isn’t that easy when it comes to planning getaways when COVID-19 remains a concern.

It’s not unusual for family members to feel anxious about new adventures as the pandemic continues to evolve.

Consequently, health care clinics around the country have reported an increase in anxiety and depression in children over the past year and a half as the world practiced an unnatural, isolated lifestyle.

No wonder that over time social isolation has led to anxious family dynamics.

Even the most seasoned travelers have been working through anxiety when it comes to leaving home and heading to a new location. It’s a shame that travel — something that should inherently reduce stress can be a cause of anxiety.

The American Psychological Association (APA) recently reported that 49% of Americans feel anxious about returning to in-person activities including travel due to repercussions from COVID-19.

Terri Sorg, a retired Registered Nurse and clinician in mental health and author of four books for all ages, points out, “Adults as well as children who have been living more isolated than they did in the past, may find happiness is missing in their lives. That’s often because they are anxious.”

New book helps parents, kids ward off anxiety

“Those who are worried and anxious about taking a family trip with kids should start small,” Sorg advised. “Consider a small, short journey first.”

Her recently published book is titled, Heart Fairy & Anxiety (heartfairy.net). Meet her during a special presentation about anxiety and her books at Literatus Books in Watertown on Sept.11.

Sorg is well acquainted with helping people understand and reduce stress and anxiety. In many Zoom talks over the last year and a half she has shared her own experiences dealing with anxiety as well as tips for reducing stress from a mental health perspective.

In her new book she says the energy associated with anxiety may be with you for a long time, but there’s a positive side to this.

In her new book about anxiety she writes, “Know that you can calm it down. You are in charge. You can be our own superhero and calm your anxiety down. You can be strong in doing things that once were scary. You can do it!”

She tells children and parents that they can calm anxiety down when they start to feel worried or scared.

She points out recognize you’re starting to feel anxious. Then take slow breaths in and out of your belly.

Another important tip is the use of Tapping which you can do along with deep breathing.

“Hold out one hand like a karate chop. Use the fingers of your other hand to tap the side of your hand,” Sorg said. “Now tap your hand as you slowly breathe down into your tummy.”

It might take some practice to breathe and tap together, but the writer as coach said, “That’s OK. Practicing is OK.”

Learn to love yourself—it matters

When asked about the main message in her book about anxiety, she says, “It’s important to learn to love yourself –that’s especially true when anxiety seems to be taking over your life.”

The message in all her books is that you are loved, no matter what. The message she imparts is that your inner Heart Fairy (your soul) loves you no matter who you are, who you live with or why you think you are not loved.

Sorg came up with the idea of a Heart Fairy from her own experience of searching for love.

“Being a caretaker of others during my nursing career helped me feel valuable, but it also led to feeling burned out,” Sorg recalled. “While I was spending energy caring for others I wasn’t spending any time on myself. Even though I was looking for ways to improve myself and acquire skills for my career, I didn’t realize I was missing the art of loving myself.”

Above all, loving yourself is about acceptance, with no judgment of yourself or others.

“With so much tension in the world today, having a strong inner spirit and feeling loved are more important than ever before.”

Travel with less anxiety

Sorg advises parents to stay flexible when they travel.

“Traveling with kids has by definition many variables. Check in with your stress level throughout the day,” Sorg added, “allowing for a more relaxed time for you and the rest of the family.”

At the end of the day, vacations of several days or short day trips are more about being together than getting out of town. “But changing your routine is the big benefit for many families who have felt cooped up for a long time,” said Sorg.

A change of pace of any type, whether it be having a family camping adventure in the backyard or heading to a theme park can help hit the refresh button and help you reconnect with each other in a fun-filled way.

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