This is a subject I have been hesitant to talk about for a very long time.
As an avid lover of travel, I have never wanted to admit to myself that flying makes me a little uneasy. Yes I know that it is safer than by travelling by car by a long shot. And yes, I know that the chances of something going wrong are slim to none. But that still doesn’t change the fact that it makes me on edge. I know I’m not the only one who has this issue, so here’s hoping that my tips on how to deal with my anxiety will help fellow travellers as well!
Please note that I am not a mental health specialist. I am simply sharing strategies that have helped me deal with my own anxiety in the past.
Figure out what scares you and why
For me, it’s not heights or even that the plane will crash, but rather that I feel really claustrophobic. There’s just something about being trapped in a small tube for hours on end with complete strangers that just puts me on edge. But, once I was able to figure out exactly what made me anxious about flying, I was able to take steps towards trying to mitigate my fear.
If it’s crashing that scares you, do some research about plane vs. car crash statistics and you’ll see that you are perfectly safe on an airplane. I always say that knowledge is power and in this case it may be exactly what you need in order to feel less anxious about your upcoming flight.
Listen to calming music
Download some Jack Johnson, soothing waves, jungle sounds, spa music – whatever makes you feel a little bit more chill! My favourite thing to do is to grab my noise cancelling headphones and listen to a ‘calming playlist’ that I’ve made. It includes all of my favourite calming sounds.
Try to clear your mind by meditating in your seat. I have found that this takes some practice though so you may not want to try for the first time while you are on the plane. About a week or so before your flight, practice meditating in a calm environment for about 10-15 minutes a day. You’ll see that once you’ve been able to master it in your living room, it will be much easier to do in an unfamiliar environment.
If meditation fails, try getting out of your own head. Bring tons of books and magazines, watch movies, listen to music, talk to someone, play cards or colour! Colouring is my favourite way to distract myself. I even have the Lonely Planet travel-themed colouring book 🙂 So find what works best for you and make sure you have it on hand during your next flight.
For some reason I find this really helps me when I’m feeling particularly jumpy. It almost feels like I am transferring all of my useless anxious energy into the gum. Plus it has the added bonus of helping me with altitude adjustments during takeoff and landing!
Try to get some sleep
There is nothing better than dozing off at takeoff only to wake up during landing! I try to get as much sleep as possible when flying in order to miss as much of it as possible haha. Plus it helps me feel less groggy when I finally get to my destination.
In order to get the best sleep possible, I try to keep the same bedtime routine I have when I’m at home. I’ll change into something more comfortable, drink some tea, wash my face and brush my teeth, and read a bit before going to bed. I’ve also found that having a blanket, pillow, eye mask and ear plugs make me feel a little more comfortable in that cramped seat.
If all else fails, I also usually take 1 tablet of melatonin – a supplement that helps increase total sleep time (but consult a medical professional before using it if you aren’t sure if this is right for you).
Choose an aisle seat
This really helps me feel more in control of my claustrophobia. I think that just knowing that I have the freedom to get up whenever I want to, makes me feel way more at ease. Sitting in the middle/window seat makes me feel so trapped since there are 1-2 people standing between you and the bathroom, walking around, etc.
Don’t eat super greasy foods before getting on the plane, you’ll just feel sick! I know that staying healthy is a challenge when travelling, but stuffing your face with unhealthy food will only make you feel worse than you already do. I recommend eating a healthy meal and drinking plenty of water before boarding your flight.
Stay away from caffeine and alcohol
Though it may be tempting to grab a glass or two to ease your nerves, these will only make you feel jumpy(er) than you already feel and I’m guessing you could really do without that extra energy. Substitute your coffee with herbal tea (which also has a bonus calming effect) and the alcohol for water. You’ll feel way more refreshed when you get to your destination than if you had indulged in that martini.
Remind yourself of your destination
There’s a reason why you were ready to board that 12 hour flight despite your anxiety. You’re going to be somewhere so amazing or see awesome people once you land! Keep this in mind throughout your flight and that it will all be worth it in the end. Don’t let your fears stop you from doing amazing things! I always like to have a few pictures of the places I’ll be going on my phone as a reminder of where I’ll be landing once I get off the plane.
Talk to the staff
The flight crew can be really helpful if they are made aware that flying makes you anxious. You are not the first person to be anxious about flying and you will certainly not be the last. Let them know how you’re feeling and they’ll take good care of you!
Talk to a professional
If none of my tips have helped you (sorry!) then it may be time for you to speak to a professional about your fears. Please don’t let your fear of flying stop you from visiting places you’ve always dreamed of or visiting your friends and family.
What are your tips for beating flight anxiety?
Please share them in the comment section below!
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