February 28, 2018

How I Got Over My Travel Anxiety

I recently flew from Heathrow to LA with Air New Zealand, and as someone who has recently started having pre-travel anxiety, I wanted to share the tips that helped me have a comfortable happy flight. (It helped that the Air New Zealand staff were LOVELY.)

Up until recently, I’d always been a totally calm happy traveller. I have been lucky enough to travel loads with my family from an early age. My parents love Portugal (and now share their own house out there with a family friend) and we’d frequently board a plane to hop over to somewhere in Europe. There was also an airport right next to our family home, flying was never a big deal.

So when I started getting anxious on aeroplanes, it really sprung up on me, and took me by surprise. Travel, after all, is also a huge part of my job.

That’s the thing about any sort of anxiety. Sometimes you can’t figure out ‘why’, or ‘why now?” or link it up to a certain trigger point. I don’t remember anything “bad” happening that would be the reason for it, but I started to really dread flights. It would start weeks leading up to the flight, I would start becoming anxious and it would affect my ability to manage my workload. On the day of the flight itself, my brain would start to go into overwhelm mode, and I would pace around the airport with my heart beating really fast, and my mouth becoming very dry.

For me, it’s not so much the flight itself I’m specifically dreading, it’s the taking off and landing. I used to dig my nails into my hand so hard they could bleed, and I could feel myself on the edge of a panic attack, which as we all know, is not a nice feeling.

I longed to be that girl I used to be who flung a pair of pants and bra in a tote bag and boarded a plane, without a care in the world.

I was going to call this blog post “tips for getting over travel anxiety” but instead just wanted to focus on more of a personal “these worked for me!” angle. Because we are all different, but I at least wanted to pass on the things that made a difference for me in the hope they might help you too:

Putting your thoughts into perspective

The brilliant Psychology Mum (a clinical psychologist who works within the NHS) sent me a few statistics that helped settle my over-reactive worrying brain:

“Every American who gets on a plane is more likely to become president than crash.”
“Flying is the safest form of transport, the odds of crashing is 1 to 1.2 million (in a small aeroplane). Odds on a normal plane are 1 in 11 million.”
“You are more likely to be struck by lightning when walking around than crash in a plane.”

Remembering these stats can really help for me. I never worry about getting struck by lightning, so why was I so worried about flying all of a sudden? Planes are, after all, incredibly safe.

Pack calming tools

I had a lot of recommendations for using nice things like facemasks, lavender oils and essential oils. A lovely Instagrammer called @aoifejulialistings recommended a de-stress oil called Young Living Stress Away which you rub on your wrists and back of your neck to calm. Also Rescue Remedy always works well for me.

Comfortable clothes

I never used to properly embrace the comfy aeroplane outfit, but I know realise it makes all the difference to be in clothes that allow you to relax, rather than something tight or restrictive. I wear the same jogging bottoms each time, soft and freshly washed and just by being in familiar comfy clothes can help. Most of my lounge wear is from the Mint Velvet HYGGE range.

Download helpful apps

Now this isn’t something I’ve tried or used yet, but someone recommended it to me and I wanted to include it, because I think it’s a genius idea! There is an app called Sky Guru which is essentially your guide to telling you exactly what is going on with the plane. For example, it warns you about turbulence and when it’s about to come up. It’s like having the pilot telling you specific frequent updates, but throughout the whole entire flight. I might try it if my anxiety starts to creep back.

Do you have any tips or tricks? Please do share in the comments!

*Thank you Air New Zealand for hosting my flight to LA.*

Instagram: @Airnz
Twitter: @airnzuk
Snapchat: @airnewzealand


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