Believe it or not, flight anxiety is really a common thing. Chances are if you mention it to someone that you have it, they will say ME TOO at some point. For some people, it begins as soon as they book a flight or perhaps it starts a few days just before travel. For others, just the very thought of going through the airport security queues makes their palms all sweaty and thats all before the potential inflight travel anxiety relating to take off and landing kicks in.
Now, I am not an expert in tackling anxiety by any means but as someone who started having serious anxiety about taking a flight five years ago after a particularly turbulent flight home from Germany, I have managed to cobble together a few tips in recent years that have helped me manage it to the point where I now actually enjoy flying.
GET A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP THE NIGHT BEFORE
It seems quite an obvious piece of advice but it really does help as a firm starting point before a journey. They say, people with flight anxiety, feel it worse if they travel while tired or even perhaps hungover. Getting a good night’s sleep before you travel means you can approach your journey with a clear head as opposed to a foggy, grouchy one meaning an all round better experience.
STAY AWAY FROM ALCOHOL
While it’s very tempting to reach for a sneaky Gin and Tonic to help calm your nerves before a flight, alcohol can actually make things worse. I’ve found the best way for me to deal with all the pre-flight anxious thoughts is to appeal to my logical side. Anxiety is like a naughty child that needs to be told to behave itself. However, the more alcohol you consume, the harder this is to do. One drink may calm your nerves but as most people tend to drink more the more nervous they are, you are really only a hop, skip and a jump away from overdoing it rendering you not only anxious but now too tipsy to do manage it effectively. Do yourself a favour and stay drink alcohol before a flight. It is not an effective crutch.
BLOCK OUT NOISE
I mean this both literally and metaphorically. Once I am boarded and in my seat, I tend to just focus on me and getting comfortable. If its a long haul flight, I take off my shoes, put on a comfy pair of socks and put all my things were I need them to be. Magazines.. check! Bottle of water.. check! Earphones.. check! Looking at other people panicking about where they are going to store their oversized hand luggage as there is no more room in the overhead compartment is really not my idea trying to find zen ahead of a flight so I tend to just block it out. I put on my earphones and either start watching a movie I have downloaded or playing a game of solitaire.
Distracting myself really is the aim of the game when it comes to flying. As I said before, different people find different parts of the flight experience nerve-wracking. For me, the most anxious part of my journey tends to be the take off. Its the point I build myself up to. I got a great piece of advice a couple of years back and that was to distract myself with mental arithmetic! It is next to impossible for the brain to panic and do mental arithmetic at the same time. Trust me, there is nothing like mentally tackling your thirteen times tables to make those nervy times pass in a flash. I keep a little print out (minus the answers of course) in my passport wallet which I use each time of fly and it really was a super piece of advice.
Have you any tips to tackle anxiety about flying? I would love to hear them in the comment box below.