Anxiety is Hard, But We Created a Retreat to Help You Cope

By Hannah Whitesides, Project Passport Travel Retreat Leader

We all know the symptoms: racing heart, stomach aches, dry mouth, tense muscles, sweaty and shaky hands. Whether you experience these symptoms once a day or once a month, anxiety is something we all have to deal with. 


The first step to overcoming your anxiety is to understand it. If you’re someone who suffers from clinical anxiety, it just means that your amygdala (the emotional center of your brain) is sensitive. The amygdala’s job is to identify a threat and respond accordingly. If you’re face-to-face with an angry lion, your amygdala will push you into fight-or-flight mode so that you will survive. The problem with this, however, is that this is where our anxiety begins. Those who have severe anxiety have amygdala’s that detect a threat in everyday situations which sets off a recurrent uncontrollable feeling of panic. However, not everyone with anxiety has an overly sensitive amygdala.

Other anxiety disorders can be caused by many things and felt differently between people. Anxiety can be caused by an imbalance of brain chemicals, it can be inherited, or it can be a result of trauma. While we can’t reverse the source of your anxiety, there are ways we can work on handling it so that it’s not so scary. Some of the most common forms of anxiety control include exercise, exposure therapy, and mindfulness. 

We, the Project Passport team, are not perfect by any means. We have felt the depths of anxiety and depression and still struggle with it. We don’t have the perfect answer because there isn’t one. Anxiety is human nature so the answer we’re trying to find is not how to stop it, but how to live with a healthy dose of it.

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We are hosting an Anti-Anxiety Retreat located in Banner Elk, North Carolina. The activities on this retreat will allow us all to come face-to-face with our anxiety except this time we are controlling it; it is not controlling us. Our goal is for you to gain a new perspective about your life and your struggles and to realize that your anxiety does not define who you are. We will revisit the things that make us happy in life because most of the time those things are pushed to the side by our anxiety and depression.

Finally, we want to reduce the stigma. I’ve noticed that when we don’t talk about our fears it forces us to handle them internally and because humans are naturally their own worst critics, we tend to talk ourselves into panic. Banner Elk will be a safe space for all of us to check in with our mental health and rejuvenate so that we may come back to our day-to-day lives feeling strong and in control.

Check out our “5 Ways to Crush Anxiety.”


Project Passport is a mental wellness travel retreat company created to help people connect with one another and gain the tools to improve their lives in the best way possible. Each travel experience has a unique theme tied to the destination and overall goal of the retreat. We are making mental wellness the norm, one retreat at a time. Learn more at