I am not sure what is going on, but lately I’ve been gaining followers by doing exactly nothing. Thanks! Exams and internship are over, so normally I will have more time the coming weeks to write and read. In a next post I will update you about my summer plans.
I was thinking of a subject to write about and since I’ll be taking the plane this Sunday, I thought I’d write about anxieties related to flying. When you search the internet you can find quite a few tips about this subject, but I somehow always feel like these posts are written by people who don’t have the anxiety themselves.That’s why I decided to share my very brief experience with flying and my anxieties that come along with it.
My very first flight was only last summer, when I was 21. I often heard reactions like “what, you never flew before?”, well no, I did not. I must say that I was extremely nervous. For starters all things new make me nervous, let alone it was my first time travelling outside of Europe. I feel very uncomfortable taking public transport in general.
I guess the thing about airplanes that scares me the most is that I cannot get out whenever I want to. I am always looking for my “escape route”. Other than that, I somehow made up doom-scenarios in my head about how it would feel. These scenarios included, “I will feel like I am going to faint when the airplane goes of the ground”, “The airplane crashing and me finding myself in a scene of Cast Away, crying because I cannot find Wilson”, etc.
My (often crazy) thoughts made me so nervous I started crying. The first weeping episode started when my parents dropped me off, the second in the bathroom close to my gate, and a third moment of embarrassment on the airplane itself. If there existed a prize for most dramatic passenger, I would have won it!
Once the airplane was in the air, the crying turned to laughing, I felt so silly! All of this energy for nothing! I even found it magical I was flying. I even loved it. Then there was turbulence, which turned the love into “please get me out of here”, and finally the landing, where I had to remind myself to breathe. Once landed, “it wasn’t that bad!”. So each time I take the airplane, a roller coaster of feelings.
So how to deal with anxieties… I guess the answer is to just face them! There is no magic formula that is going to make the anxieties disappear, there are a few tricks to deal with them however.
In fist instance, like I said, you have to face them. Your anxiety of flying isn’t going to pass, unless you actually take the first step to book a flight. Don’t let your fears stop you from going places! You will notice (like silly crying me) that in your head things are a lot worse as they actually are! I have taken 3 return flights so far, and noticed that each time it is going better!
•••Breathe! and other tips•••
- Breathing is always good, but it also helps to keep you calm. I have a relaxation number on my old-fashioned MP3-player that I use to do my breathing exercises. The key is to breathe through your tummy, not your chest, and to make sure you take long deep breaths! Also the relaxing music will calm you down a bit, definitely if you’ve practiced in advance. What also helps for me is to remind myself that I have more chance of dying in a car than on an airplane, I know this is a weird one, but it sure helps for me.
2. Ginger often does the magic for me. If I get anxious, or nervous, I tend to get nauseous. Since I am not a huge fan of pills of any kind, I use ginger instead. It is healthy and also very good for your stomach! Maybe it is only the idea that I ate/drank/ or taken a homeopathic pill with ginger that helps me calm down, but it sure makes me a bit calmer.
3. Don’t try to fight your anxiety. It mostly has a reverse effect. I know it is extremely hard (honestly I personally suck at applying this one), but somehow it is completely OK and NORMAL you are scared! I am pretty sure there are numerous people who are at least a tidy bit nervous before getting on a plane. Try to just except the feeling you have instead of fighting against it. If you notice you’re scared just observe the feeling and then tell yourself it is ok, you are just feeling this way because you are going to fly, but everything is going to work out just fine. I noticed that I also feel more comfortable if I tell someone I am scared. They mostly reply by reassuring you everything is going to be just fine, and in my head it comforts me to know that there is someone who knows (weird sentence).
4. What helps for me as well is to focus on my destination. You know up front how long it will more or less take to get there, so you can count down the time, and see each time you are getting closer. I also like to think about what I will be doing once I get there. If possible, watch a movie, play a game, read, … entertain yourself during and before the flight. For me this helps to put my focus on something other than my thoughts, plus it seems like the flight is less long.
5. Try to avoid caffeine and alcohol. In general these substances have a bad effect on your anxiety! For me caffeine triggers anxiety/panic, since 4 years I try to avoid using any, and I must say it helped a lot with controlling panic attacks! During and before the flight for me it is best to just drink water and have a light meal.