Overlanding with Anxiety

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A lot of great advice and suggestions here.

I think revisiting a spot she's been to already--where she handled anxiety and ended up enjoying herself--will make it so much easier the 2nd time. It may reaffirm for her that there can be comfort and familiarity in the outdoors. Then you venture further.

A constant, though gentle, nudge against perceived boundaries will expand her horizons and comfort levels. She's fortunate to have someone like you to help in positive ways.
 

rho

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Anxiety can be rough in those situations as the "what if's" can spiral out of control really fast for someone who doesn't have experience or good decision making skills under pressure. My partner has super bad anxiety and getting them outside more frequently was a lot of work both in helping them understand what the risks actually are and how to mitigate them in various situations. Another aspect was they themselves had to make progress on their own with meds, therapy, CBT/DBT and how to be more self sufficient in remote areas.

My biggest two bits of advice are to be VERY VERY patient and to really approach the discussions about anxiety in the context of camping, off-road stuff and exploring with a lot of kindness and being very willing to educate but maintaining your partners boundaries and comfort level in those situations.=

Some of the stuff already mentioned here is a good start, and a good way to help teach and educate if she's willing. Also understanding the triggers that lead to anxiety in your partner is something you'll need to do as well, that way you can understand how to mitigate it and she can work on getting out of the spiral.

Some good chances for education are...
Truck prep/readiness:
- Tire condition/air pressure/maintenance/correct tires for your use
- Making sure both of you are familiar with the tools and processes to change tires on the truck with the tools on hand
- verifying fluids are all present, not leaking or low and nothing is majorly broken. Making sure cooling system is in good shape as well.
- common fixes for things. For instance, if a tie rod breaks or bends, do you have the tools to adjust/juryrig it to a point where you can drive out (even if a tire gets worn to the point of being unusable, its better than being stuck). If you have a brake line failure do you have vice grips to to pinch the hose off so you can keep using the other brakes to get you to a point of safety?
- recovery tools and techniques are a big one. Having the snatch strap/tow strap present and handy in the truck is a good start. And if you don't have a way to air up and air down quickly and reliably, I'd strongly suggest getting something that can do that. Same with a shovel.
Personally, I won't go exploring off in the boonies with out those four items.

Camping/shelter/food:
- What happens if you don't have a stove or way to start a fire?
- what happens when someone forgets to pack a jacket or pants or something (I'm bad about this, LOL). Same with forgetting camp sleeping gear or a sleeping bag or something.
- what happens if you forget to bring some form of shelter?

While humans are pretty good at surviving in pretty bad/nasty environments, it takes a little knowledge about how to survive in the desert. We have been doing it as a species for tens of thousands of years but it does take some time and experience. I suspect once she gets a better handle on that and she's more ok with pushing herself out of her comfort zone, it'll get a little easier to get her out.
 

Apoclapedia

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Ten years as a structural and wildland firefighter have left me with PTSD, anxiety and depression. But, its totally manageable without drugs. Anxiety is tough. It requires constant vigilance. Its easy to get lost in the "what ifs" of life. So you have to know how to pull your mind back to the present and remind yourself. That the "what ifs" arent in fact happening and right now youre fine. It takes practice, patients and self control. Identifying how your body is reacting and feeling and doing it enough to catch signs of an incoming anxiety attack before you have one. Also training really helped me. The more situations i learned about and was trained to deal with, the more confident i felt, the less anxiety i had.

I was already a firefighter, EMR and SAR volunteer so i needed training on how my mind and body were reacting to trauma. But for others they sometimes need to learn those physical and practical skills to build their confidence in that direction. Survival training, recovery gear, how to plan for emergencies and deal with them. Anxiety doesnt happen for no reason. First you have to identify where it started. While you leant to mange it. And then build confidence and skills to deal with it and the world around you.

The downside to anxiety is "if you can conceive it, you can achieve it" is a double edged sword. You can literally make a bad situation much worse if you let your mind run wild and are stuck totally focused on all the ways this day is only going to get worse. So manageing it becomes a safety issue as well. Especially if you want to play in areas where things can go from bad to worse all on their own.

There are many resources online that can help you build a tool kit to deal with it. And its not just the person with anxiety that needs those tools. Having someone else thats educated and understanding can really help pull you out of a nose dive when it starts.

Hope this helps.
 

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Many younger people have no idea what it was like in the 70's and 80's when personal communication devices and trackers were only known in Star Trek.

They have no idea how to even live if they cannot monitor and be monitored, si your girl is in reasonable company by today's standards.

I'm no doctor, but maybe she doesnt suffer anxiety beyond the modern, normal "yikes, I'm disconnected from everything." I dont know the answer to that.

I would sit calmly with her and address each of her "What If's" in turn. Have her give you a "what if" and counter it with calm, factual, knowledgeable advice. And if you yourself dont know the answer, look it up together. "What if a bear...blah blah blah" might be countered with the fact "there are no bears here, but IF we were near bears, this is how we behave and this is what we do." And so on.

She might still be nervous, of course. But as other have said, take it slow. Go to a local place,. Get comfy, and expand your circle. And...as you do that, give her very specific, helpful tasks to do. At home, teach her how to pitch the tent dir example, and have her do that when you get to camp.

Teach her some tracks of the animals she fears. Have her do a quick scan around camp upon arrival.

Maybe she is good at starting the fire. Have her do that while you pitch the tent. Whatever it is. Give her the knowhow to recognize signs of those things she is afraid of and set her looking for those signs. If she doesnt find them, then get busy on task. That should give her confidence that the area is safe, and the confidence to know how to perform the task at hand.

After that, do another check of the area, have dinner, a drink, and turn in.

Keep doing that and expand your area and the tasks.
 

smlobx

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Interesting topic and one I find interesting as our DIL suffers from this as well.

My only other suggestion is to go out with another couple so she is not alone (with you of course) and take baby steps. A regular campground first, then a Forrest service campground then finally boondocking...

Good luck.
 

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Anyone themselves overland with anxiety or perhaps travel with someone who does. Any ideas on how to calm her worries?
yeah, this is real simple
quit putting her in situations she is uncomfortable with
real simple if ya love her
quit overlanding
done

do things she loves
 

ExpeditionArizona

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yeah, this is real simple
quit putting her in situations she is uncomfortable with
real simple if ya love her
quit overlanding
done

do things she loves
lol i cant tell if this is a joke or if you're serious?
she actually really loves the outdoors. she calls herself a "hippie" and she belongs in Sedona cause shes into all that kinda stuff. However she's never been anywhere super remote. So we're just building everything up. I think quitting is definitely the wrong answer.
 

ExpeditionArizona

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Many younger people have no idea what it was like in the 70's and 80's when personal communication devices and trackers were only known in Star Trek.

They have no idea how to even live if they cannot monitor and be monitored, si your girl is in reasonable company by today's standards.

I'm no doctor, but maybe she doesnt suffer anxiety beyond the modern, normal "yikes, I'm disconnected from everything." I dont know the answer to that.

I would sit calmly with her and address each of her "What If's" in turn. Have her give you a "what if" and counter it with calm, factual, knowledgeable advice. And if you yourself dont know the answer, look it up together. "What if a bear...blah blah blah" might be countered with the fact "there are no bears here, but IF we were near bears, this is how we behave and this is what we do." And so on.

She might still be nervous, of course. But as other have said, take it slow. Go to a local place,. Get comfy, and expand your circle. And...as you do that, give her very specific, helpful tasks to do. At home, teach her how to pitch the tent dir example, and have her do that when you get to camp.

Teach her some tracks of the animals she fears. Have her do a quick scan around camp upon arrival.

Maybe she is good at starting the fire. Have her do that while you pitch the tent. Whatever it is. Give her the knowhow to recognize signs of those things she is afraid of and set her looking for those signs. If she doesnt find them, then get busy on task. That should give her confidence that the area is safe, and the confidence to know how to perform the task at hand.

After that, do another check of the area, have dinner, a drink, and turn in.

Keep doing that and expand your area and the tasks.
im taking her out today for a little day drive up the mountain. only a couple hours of a drive. nothing crazy. since its a friday we'll more than likely run into some jeepers, and side by side guys out there too. So that'll make her feel better. Im also gonna let her drive some if shes comfortable so she gets a better feel for how the truck handles and builds her confidence and also maybe set up some chairs and chill for a little bit.
 
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Mtnmn99

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My wife was the same way when we met. We started slow. Took her on easy trails, let her drive on dirt roads. Worked up to letting her do some harder trails in easy sections. Eventually she drove the Jeep on a few tough spots. She does not like to drive, but now is very comfortable, mostly because she knows she can get out if something happens.

Last month we did our first solo trip in the desert for 4 days. She was a rockstar. I found that participation and comfortability were two key factors. For example, I used a GMRS radio for spotting. She had learned to spot in the past and hated it. It turned out to be she did not like to yell. GMRS solved it. Garmin Inreach gave her piece of mind. Basically it was practice and listening to what worried her and now enjoys going on trips.
 

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My wife was the same way when we met. We started slow. Took her on easy trails, let her drive on dirt roads. Worked up to letting her do some harder trails in easy sections. Eventually she drove the Jeep on a few tough spots. She does not like to drive, but now is very comfortable, mostly because she knows she can get out if something happens.

Last month we did our first solo trip in the desert for 4 days. She was a rockstar. I found that participation and comfortability were two key factors. For example, I used a GMRS radio for spotting. She had learned to spot in the past and hated it. It turned out to be she did not like to yell. GMRS solved it. Garmin Inreach gave her piece of mind. Basically it was practice and listening to what worried her and now enjoys going on trips.
That’s awesome! That’s the goal here too lol. The Garmin definitely helped and I think now it’s just a matter of slow introduction to everything else.
 
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im taking her out today for a little day drive up the mountain. only a couple hours of a drive. nothing crazy. since its a friday we'll more than likely run into some jeepers, and side by side guys out there too. So that'll make her feel better. Im also gonna let her drive some if shes comfortable so she gets a better feel for how the truck handles and builds her confidence and also maybe set up some chairs and chill for a little bit.
We do this every chance we get... I have a small grill that I use to burn some meat on and have a picnic BBQ. Just a short drive up to one of my wife’s favorite spots where we can let the dogs run loose and our daughter can go explore. Meanwhile we just sit down and relax... I really enjoy doing this at the end of some of the more challenging trails, because it makes the picnic more of a reward and something to look forward to.
 

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Yes, I put together "kit's" for everything. Just like a first aid kit. Lost kit: compass, maps, gps, signal mirror. A stuck kit: chains, tracks, come-along, ropes and strap. Food kit: multiple water purification methods, emergency food bar and mre's. Distraction kit: a book, a puzzle, a game and instrument ( a harmonica is perfect ). Every kit has glow sticks, lighter and a knife even the Pamper kit: lotions, chocolates anything you think can help reverse an attack. Doing that made it so everyone knew what was what and where. Hope this helps, it did for us.
 
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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.
How involved is she in the trip planning? She may find some comfort in planning the route / meals / pack / etc..
 

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I was Air Force and we also had a risk management system. I have always lived for the thrill of the risk, but as I get older I understand that I really should take fewer risks. The risk assessment system works to identify the risks and give you tools to reduce the risk or deal with it if it happens. This give you more of a feeling of power and control. Confidence. It can really help and also help you identify weaknesses in your gear and systems.
The more prepared you are for anything that comes up, the less of a “Big deal” it is if it happens.
 
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oneleglance

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Since you are in Arizona sign up for Overland Expo and some of the womens classes. Oh and these are NOT dumbed down "ladys" night crap, these are put on by real women who travel solo or compete in events or have years of experience.
It will help her see and hear from women who have overcome hardship and hazard.
 

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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.
Honestly, I would start with teaching her wilderness survival. Not force it down her throat, but get her started learning... This can be done in the "safety" of the back yard. Knowing she can handle things will help to alleviate her fears as she learns that the things she feared can be easily handled. This includes getting first aid and CPR certifications for both of you... learning how to start a camp fire, even learning how to forage food. In this way, she runs out of things to be afraid of, thus has fewer things to be anxious over.

Find and make some friends with other couples (or even individuals) in the area who are also interested in overlanding. You are not alone if you have friends in the vehicle behind you. so even if your vehicle broke down, she would not have to worry about being stranded alone in the middle of nowhere.

Every time a fear comes out, make a mental note of it... devise a plan to overcome the cause of it. Every time she learns that a fear can be overcome, she will have less to fear.
 
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Mtnmn99

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My wife was the same way when we met. We started slow. Took her on easy trails, let her drive on dirt roads. Worked up to letting her do some harder trails in easy sections. Eventually she drove the Jeep on a few tough spots. She does not like to drive, but now is very comfortable, mostly because she knows she can get out if something happens.

Last month we did our first solo trip in the desert for 4 days. She was a rockstar. I found that participation and comfortability were two key factors. For example, I used a GMRS radio for spotting. She had learned to spot in the past and hated it. It turned out to be she did not like to yell. GMRS solved it. Garmin Inreach gave her piece of mind. Basically it was practice and listening to what worried her and now enjoys going on trips.
That’s awesome! That’s the goal here too lol. The Garmin definitely helped and I think now it’s just a matter of slow introduction to everything else.
If you are ever in Northern Ca, let me know. We can take them out on a trail.
 
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