Overlanding with Anxiety

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ExpeditionArizona

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not sure where i should have put this but maybe here.

Anyways, i travel with my girlfriend who has anxiety. She get anxious/nervous when out in more remote (no cell service) types of areas. I recently went out and bought a Garmin InReach Explorer to help ease her worry since we can have people track us in real time and text from the device but she still gets anxious. Her worries are more of the WHAT IF type of stuff. What if this or that happens? panic attacks and we're out here alone types of things.

Anyone themselves overland with anxiety or perhaps travel with someone who does. Any ideas on how to calm her worries?

She's not on meds and does meditate and it does help some but we're both hoping to find ways to maybe rid it all together.
 

smritte

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That was how my wife was when we first met. She had never been out of the city. The first time we went on a trip down a dirt road she was afraid to go to the bathroom because she didn't want to be attacked by bears or wolves or..... We were in the desert. To me it was silly, to her it was a real possibility. Best cure is just time. Sooner or later the person will desensitize. Over my lifetime, I've seen this once in a while in people new to my Jeep club. Some people stop going out and others just get use to it. Have her help with planning, give her an important part of it.
 

ExpeditionArizona

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That was how my wife was when we first met. She had never been out of the city. The first time we went on a trip down a dirt road she was afraid to go to the bathroom because she didn't want to be attacked by bears or wolves or..... We were in the desert. To me it was silly, to her it was a real possibility. Best cure is just time. Sooner or later the person will desensitize. Over my lifetime, I've seen this once in a while in people new to my Jeep club. Some people stop going out and others just get use to it. Have her help with planning, give her an important part of it.
yea shes said things like that too. Her latest one was being up in the mountains at elevation (8,000ft) where we go and is worried about passing out from thinner air. I myself got a little nervous when i first started offroading back when but time definitely got me used to is and enjoyed it. So we're hoping thats the same here. More meditation, more exposure to the environment and time spent outside to where she realizes, all is ok.
 

ExpeditionArizona

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Maybe make it a positive experience by starting slow, easy roads, and a place with cell service and other amenities. While there have her test out the Garmin until she's comfortable, then work your way to remote places.
yea i was talkin to my old man about it and thats what he suggested too. He was saying that even though its gonna be a little pricey, to take her to some camping spots that have hosts and flush toilets and such to ease her into it. Then maybe some designated camping spots that dont have a host or amenities but you may still have to pay a fee such as some state park areas, then try dispersed camping and so on. It definitely is getting her used to being outside in nature.
She loves the Garmin, when we head out, ill set up some Mapshare on it and shoot a link to her folks and mine and kinda give her the "hey look, someone can see us at all times while we're out here" and it makes her feel better.
 
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yea i was talkin to my old man about it and thats what he suggested too. He was saying that even though its gonna be a little pricey, to take her to some camping spots that have hosts and flush toilets and such to ease her into it. Then maybe some designated camping spots that dont have a host or amenities but you may still have to pay a fee such as some state park areas, then try dispersed camping and so on. It definitely is getting her used to being outside in nature.
She loves the Garmin, when we head out, ill set up some Mapshare on it and shoot a link to her folks and mine and kinda give her the "hey look, someone can see us at all times while we're out here" and it makes her feel better.
Yeah doing so might give her confidence and peach of mind in the technology (Garmin) for her to venture out to remote places.
 

Lindenwood

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I have a low tolerance for unmitigated risks. I mitigate the risks of overlanding with tools and knowledge or, in some cases, restrictions.

For example, I probably accept more risk when alone than if I have my son with me, if for nothing else to avoid traumatizing him with a situation (hypothetically, shivering all night in the car) at which I'd myself chuckle.

For you, as mentioned, ease her into the idea and let her learn of the tools and skills that will help her mitigate her (perceived or not) risks.
 
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rgallant

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It can be difficult, some people can not get past certain things, my wife is unable to drive on hiways due to anxiety. She can manage around town or if I am driving.

All the suggestions here are good, and you are starting out well. But particularly discuss what she is most anxious about, treat her concerns with respect and ask what you can do together to alleviate them. A larger group might help, as would planning a overnighter not too far from home or a hotel where you can pack and go home or to the hotel if things get to difficult for her. Day trips specific destinations might also help, where you see other vehicles on the road and there are people around.
 
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ExpeditionArizona

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thanks for the help everyone!

We have little discussions about what exactly it is that she gets anxious about. I have even let her drive the truck on some trails so she herself can get a feel for the trail and build her confidence driving offroad. i have premium subscriptions for GAIA and let her play with the maps and such so she can see exactly how far out from civilization and that we arent as far out as it seems. Ive talked with a buddy to take his wife and kids out there with us and do a weekend trip at a designated camp site and maybe drive some trails around as well so she can see that everything is ok and even the kids are out here having fun.

I will never take her anywhere where i dont feel comfortable and ive told her that to ease her mind as well. Ill scout a trail by myself or a friend/family member before i take her out there. She likes playing around with the gadgets and she loves to be the photographer out there.
 

Marla Meckes

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I'm not sure if my experience is helpful, but I used to have lot's of "what if" anxiety. It would almost be overwhelming. I finally had to step back and realize that worrying about stuff sucks the happiness from now, but doesn't keep the thing I was worrying about from happening. The only thing I could do is take the time to research so I understood and planned for whatever risk was involved, but also understand that I couldn't control or plan for everything, and worrying about it wouldn't keep it from happening. Life has so many uncertainties, and I realized that worrying about things that probably would never happen was affecting my happiness. I had to give myself a hard mental shake, but it worked.
 

bamakojon

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I think one of the best things you can do is have a discussion (heck, write down a list) of the things that stress her out and talk about what you'll do if that happens. (e.g. the stressor is being out of cell reception in an emergency. A possible solution is to make sure you have a good radio and knowledge of repeaters in the area, emergency frequencies, etc.)

Get her involved in planning. For some people, this can help them feel like their in control from the outset, which can help later. It can also help for her to really feel like she's getting to do things that she wants to do. Maybe even add time for her to do a specific activity that she finds relaxing. Does she like photography? Sketching or painting? Playing an instrument? Anything that she finds enjoyable!

Build up to longer trips gradually. Exposure is one of the only real ways to get over specific fears like being out of reach in a "what if" situation. On those shorter trips, if she starts feeling anxiety, stop and work on calming down. When a person's fear response is active, they're not going to be able to think very rationally. Just sit calmly until everyone can think rationally and be calm. This also helps to start to reprogram the brains response to a certain stimulus (i.e. when she's feeling anxiety about being out of service her brain is pairing the stimulus of being out of cell reception with a feeling of anxiety. Waiting until she's calm and then staying there for a minute can help her brain to realize that being out of service isn't so bad, making it easier the next time). Eventually, with enough patience, she can overcome the anxiety and will enjoy it so much more! I hope this helps!
 

tjZ06

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Sometimes it's easy to forget being out in nature isn't "natural" for many. I grew up backpacking, and going to the family cabin (that's a real-deal cabin... 4+ hrs from electricity, you sleep out on "sleeping porches" not in it, I'm not talking a mansion in Tahoe with some logs glued on the front) so it all felt natural and safe to me and it's hard to relate when people don't feel the same. I guess you could tell her how much more likely she is to die in an accident on a major freeway or to get mugged (or worse) in a major city than she is to have serious problems out in the wilderness... but then she might just be stressed everywhere. ;) I think the real solution is what others have said: time. Like anything unfamiliar and uncomfortable nothing helps as much as just time and repetition.

-TJ
 
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loper

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Lindenwood mentioned mitigating risk. That helps. Google "Army composite risk management worksheet". It's kind of bogus, but it lets you identify the "what if" questions, determine how bad the impact of these events could be, the likelihood of the event happening, and what you can do to lesson the effect/likelihood. Finally, you determine who is going to implement the control measures. You can do all this in your head, but having a document might make it more "real" to her.

Get her involved in controlling the risks and she will feel better about the trip. Things you can't control and don't understand are always scary.

CRM looks something like this:
Blown tires are a hazard.
Blowing a steering tire at highway speeds can be a severe risk.
Low to moderate likelihood.
Ensure sufficient tread depth and inflation to reduce the risk of a blowout.
Honey, here's a tire guage, make sure we have 50 psi in all four, tell me if you see anything that looks hinky.
Residual risk: low.
Let's head for the hills.
Or:
Rolling down the side of a 1000' drop with no seat belts, roll cage, or rescue personnel on site could be catastrophic.
Residual risk: severe.
Let's not do that.

What doesn't work is disregarding her concerns. Sometimes people worry about silly things, but it ain't silly to them. Don't coddle her fears, but help her recognize them and put them to rest.

Another, possibly unintended consequence of all this is you might find an actual soft spot in your planning/equipment. Maybe you need a better first aid kit. Maybe you ought to keep some food and water on board.

Patience and good luck!
 

ExpeditionArizona

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Lindenwood mentioned mitigating risk. That helps. Google "Army composite risk management worksheet". It's kind of bogus, but it lets you identify the "what if" questions, determine how bad the impact of these events could be, the likelihood of the event happening, and what you can do to lesson the effect/likelihood. Finally, you determine who is going to implement the control measures. You can do all this in your head, but having a document might make it more "real" to her.

Get her involved in controlling the risks and she will feel better about the trip. Things you can't control and don't understand are always scary.

CRM looks something like this:
Blown tires are a hazard.
Blowing a steering tire at highway speeds can be a severe risk.
Low to moderate likelihood.
Ensure sufficient tread depth and inflation to reduce the risk of a blowout.
Honey, here's a tire guage, make sure we have 50 psi in all four, tell me if you see anything that looks hinky.
Residual risk: low.
Let's head for the hills.
Or:
Rolling down the side of a 1000' drop with no seat belts, roll cage, or rescue personnel on site could be catastrophic.
Residual risk: severe.
Let's not do that.

What doesn't work is disregarding her concerns. Sometimes people worry about silly things, but it ain't silly to them. Don't coddle her fears, but help her recognize them and put them to rest.

Another, possibly unintended consequence of all this is you might find an actual soft spot in your planning/equipment. Maybe you need a better first aid kit. Maybe you ought to keep some food and water on board.

Patience and good luck!
i actually really like this. ill have to look up that worksheet. im taking her back out on friday morning for the day so ill report back lol
 
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BensonSTW

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Go out in the hills. Look at your rig with all four tires inflated and say oh crap we have a flat. Fix it. Get kinda “stuck” and see how you would get out. Go a few miles out and send out an “I need help” to an expecting friend and have them come find you. Proof that the inreach works. Practice getting out of the common situations with her. A forgotten lighter is a chance to use the fire starter in your camp box, and you’re not gonna freeze to death because of said missing lighter. Do something trip related in a way that isn’t the obvious way, even if it makes it a little harder. Cook dinner over an open fire instead of on the camp stove you accidentally left at home. Show her that the what if’s can be handled or avoided and sometimes they can even be enjoyable to an extent. Do a first responders class. It’ll teach her how to handle an accident and remain calm. And as others have already said - start small and go often.