Because the destination is worth it
I found my inspiration for this article from my upcoming trip to Arizona for Spring Break. While I am beyond excited to escape the cold and snow, the process of getting to my destination is a bit of a personal nightmare. Although I most don’t find myself suffering from a phobia of flying, it’s not a joyful experience for me. While I can sit still and not be sent into a panic, my heart races and my mind is overcome with worry. So, long story short, I can best describe this experience as being a nervous flier. Nevertheless, my love for traveling challenges me to face my nerves and utilize air travel at least once a year. Through the years I have learned several tips and tricks that help quell my anxiety in the sky. My hope is that my “coping skills” will be beneficial to others with similar struggles. Now, without further ado, I present my five tips for a nervous flier.
1. Make yourself comfortable
This is just a general rule of mine when it comes to flying. There is no one for you to impress, so just embrace the grunge look. For bottoms you may be tempted to go the way of sweatpants but sometimes they can be too warm for a plane. I suggest some nice and cozy leggings, not too hot and not too cold. As for the top, a sweatshirt and t-shirt will never fail. But those are only my suggestions, just wear whatever makes you feel comfortable. Just please for me, do not wear heels. Moreover, there are other measures you can take to feel cozy and relaxed too. A blanket, snacks and water are never a bad idea.
2. Bring a variety of activities to pass the time
Having multiple options to keep you busy for the duration of the flight is essential for two reasons. First, activities can act as a distraction for the fear slowly threatening to drive you mad. Second, they make the time fly by (see what I did there). Good options include tv shows/movies and books to replace absentmindedly scrolling through Tik Tok. Just remember to download your media to your phone before traveling because you cannot trust the complimentary Wi-Fi. Of course, feel free to embark upon other ventures as long as they do not require much movement. Personally, I enjoy coloring books because they have been proven to reduce anxiety; plus, who doesn’t love embracing their childish side.
3. Girl, just stop checking the time
I mean this one is pretty self-explanatory. The worst thing about being stuck on an airplane is that there is nothing you can do to speed things up. You have nowhere to go and no way out which can be a terrifying experience (trust me I know). You’ll get through it, but there’s no reason to make it worse than it needs to be. For this reason, I say avoid the hand of cruel father time. Avoid looking at the clock on your phone, laptop, watch, etc. because it will make the flight go faster. The worst thing you can do is sit there slowly watching the seconds tick by. It’s the worst form of self-torture for a nervous flier and you deserve better than that.
4. Embrace the power of deep breathing
Now for some this tip is going to be a little too alternative, hippie gibberish. I know this because that’s how I felt about breathing exercises for a long time. It seems rather stupid and unnecessary, but recently my therapist taught me a deep breathing exercise and what can I say, I’m hooked. I do it every night before I fall asleep, and it has been a game changer. Whenever I feel an overwhelming flood of emotions coming on, I pull out this bad boy. It’s simple, all you have to do is take a deep breath in through your nose for five seconds, hold your breath till it’s slightly uncomfortable, and then breath out through your mouth for five seconds, and repeat. Usually, I repeat this pattern five times but honestly dealers’ choice on that one. The key is to focus on the counting and the rise and fall of your stomach. Just remember that practice makes perfect, so try it out a few times before hopping on a plane.
5. When in doubt, nap it out
I mean, what better way to make the flight go smoothly than to not be conscious of it? So, if you are one of those people who can take a nap, embrace it. Sleeping will make the time go by super-fast, you will not be overcome by feelings of anxiety and a bonus is that you will wake up feeling nice and refreshed. If falling asleep is not a simple task for you then you may just have to ignore this tip; however, you can also give melatonin a try for an added boost of tiredness. I have found that this helps me to fall asleep, or even just feel more relaxed during my plane rides.
Ideally, I would be able to tell you that with the help of these five small things, all your flying anxiety will just melt away, but we know that’s not realistic. Being a nervous flier is just something you will have to learn to cope with. One thing that may help ease your worry is knowing that you are not alone. It is very common and natural to feel uneasy about flying. So, well it may not be great, but you can get through it. Plus, I will tell you one thing, in this case, it’s not the journey that matters, it’s all about the destination.