About three years ago, I was taking off on a flight and I immediately felt a wave of unwarranted panic. I couldn’t breathe, I started tearing up out of embarrassment and I was on a flight completely alone with no one I could confide in. As someone who has flown across the country (and over the Atlantic more times than I can count) I was shocked and, truthfully, frustrated in myself. I knew I was safe, but I couldn’t understand why this had happened… and continued to happen for the next two and a half years until it unceremoniously stopped.
During those two and a half years, I would get worked up before flights. Sweaty palms, light-headed, uneasiness – you name it. I couldn’t kick the anxiety until I started some of my own practices to relieve flight anxiety.
Now, I’m pretty much back to being 99% okay with flying. I’m literally on my LA to work in Santa Monica for the week (follow along on my Instagram to see behind-the-scenes) so I’m actually excited as I’m literally about to take off right now.
Here are my tips for conquering it once and for all:
I am the child of two parents who could not be more different. Unfortunately, I had taken on my dad’s habit of arriving at the airport just in time. However, rushing through security and constantly checking the time is an extra amount of stress you don’t need to add to your plate. Lately, I’ve found that getting to the airport early has allowed me to relax before the flight, breathe easy and even read or meditate a bit to calm down before taking off.
(*Shoutout to Matt for being a main factor in this – he’s the best at getting to the airport at the right time).
Identify Your Triggers
The first step to conquering your fear of flying is to single out what scares you so much about flights. Then, acknowledge your fear so that you can start to work through it. You’ll see that this mindfulness will turn your worry levels down several notches when flying. It’s a completely natural fear so don’t feel embarrassed. For me, it’s something about the first ten minutes of takeoff that gets me. Once I identified that as my trigger, I made sure I was “busy” during those first few minutes so that my mind was somewhere else, I was fine.
Refrain From Alcohol
As much as people say it helps flying, alcohol is probably the worst for fliers. Not only is it extra dehydrating on a flight, but it’s essentially a numbing mechanism that does not resolve your issues with flying. Stick to tons of water or non-caffeinated tea throughout the flight.
Find A Distraction
I always pack headphones so that I can listen to music, a book or downloaded podcasts to take away your attention from the flight. I honestly don’t know what I would do if I forgot them!
Get Excited For Your Destination
View the experience as exciting rather than terrifying. Channel your fear about the flight into excitement for your destination and the adventures to come. Sometime I even like to flip through the pictures on my phone of the destination or the people I’m going to see to feel even more positive about the experience.
What are your tips for people suffering from flight anxiety? Post your advice in the comments below!