How to Survive Holiday Travel Stress

by Stacie Zinn Roberts

As many of us do during the holidays, I recently drove myself to the airport. I left the house at 5:30 a.m., (the butt crack of dawn), to make an 8:30 flight. The drive to Seattle airport should have taken a little over an hour that time of day.  But weather, traffic congestion, whatever clogs I-5, made the drive a full two hours.

120 minutes.

Yup.

I felt my anxiety start to build as my car crawled through downtown traffic, knowing by then I was still at least a half-hour from my target. But rather than freak out—which would have done no good at all—I decided to try another tactic. I’d recently read Outrageous Openness by Tosha Silver, and in the book, she frequently calls upon the Infinite Spirit, (defined as God, the Universe, or whatever you want to call the force that binds us together), to come to her aid in situations as major as finding a place to live, or as minor as finding a parking spot.

So, there in my car, two hands gripped white-knuckled on the steering wheel, I relaxed my body, slowed my breathing and sought Divine intervention. Out loud, calmly and firmly, I said: “Infinite Spirit, please get me to my destination on time and with ease.”

The traffic moved.

“Please let me get there on time and with ease, with kindness to all I encounter.”

The cars on I-5 merged off nearby exits.

I continued to repeat my appeal, out loud, over and over.

I pulled into the airport with no cars in front of me.

In the multi-story parking garage, I quickly found a parking spot close to the elevator.

So I wouldn’t appear to be a deranged woman bound for the no-fly list, I stopped saying the prayer out loud, and converted it into an internal mantra.

“… with ease and kindness.”

I approached the kiosks to print my boarding pass, and although the stations were all full, just as I reached the one on the end a man finished his purchase and a slot opened up for me. I kept repeating my internal mantra.

“… with kindness, on time and with ease.”

I sailed through the winding cattle chutes of security, the only person in my line.

“… with kindness.”

A uniformed attendant at TSA cracked jokes that made me laugh out loud.

“…with kindness to all I encounter.”

The train to my terminal arrived quickly. I got off at the first stop, rode the escalator to the boarding area, to find my gate right in front of me at the top of the stairs.

“…effortless ease.”

The plane was boarding but I still had time to buy a bottle of water at the nearby gift shop.

“…ease and kindness.”

I found my aisle seat on the plane, and with no one in the middle seat, I comfortably settled in for my flight.

You might think that these events are all random, that I was simply very lucky this particular morning. But I think there’s more at work here. I chose to act with patience, to flow with the world around me, to trust I would make my flight. This deliberate act, I’m certain, impacted everyone around me and opened up my path. Is this a little bit crazy? Perhaps. But I’ve seen evidence of this kind of graceful flow over and over in my life.

I truly believe that the universe reacts to our thoughts and emotions. If I’d have freaked out, yelled at other cars in traffic, screamed to the heavens and scowled at everyone I met, I have no doubt I’d have missed the flight. But instead, I decided to control the one and only thing that I could control—myself. And because of my decision to be calm and kind, sending ripples of peace out into the world, the way forward unfolded effortlessly.

Don’t believe me? Well, perhaps you should try it sometime, just to see. You do get to decide how you react to situations, and your reactions directly determine which version of the world you end up living in. You can walk around a bundle of nerves wound so tight you’re ready to pop at any moment, or you can call upon that space of inner serenity and walk through the world with a smile. Will you choose to feel stressed and spread that stress to all those around you like a virus? Or will you quiet your own anxiety and spread balance instead? You can be an island of calm in a world so swirled in chaos. It really is up to you.

Wishing you peace, kindness and ease this holiday season.

 

Stacie Zinn Roberts is an award-winning writer, speaker, marketing consultant and the author of "How to Live Your Passion & Fulfill Your Dreams." Her firm, What's Your Avocado?, is based in Mount Vernon, Washington.

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4 comments on “How to Survive Holiday Travel Stress
  1. Andrea Carroll says:

    So very interesting …. I will try this next time the world caves in on me. It’s far better than screaming and fighting. Peace and calm may win for me too.

  2. Paul Tinnon says:

    Great post as usual.

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