I’m back! For those of you who didn’t notice, I took a wee break from blogging as it felt more of a pressure than a relaxing creative outlet for me and so I decided to take a step back to make sure I was going in the right direction for me. I think with so many blogging girls talking about fashion and beauty a lot of the time, I feel like if I don’t also talk about these topics continually, I’ll lose interest. However, I’ve realised on my little blog holiday that this isn’t necessarily the case and even if it is, I should be writing about things that I’m passionate about- wether that actually is style and cosmetics or something more ‘out-there’.
In light of this, I’ve decided to ease myself back into the blogging world by writing a blog post I’ve been saving for around this time of year. As it’s now Summer (yay!) and most of us will be booking relaxing holidays abroad (double yay!), I thought I’d share my tips and tricks I use as an anxious flyer, ones that can hopefully help all you guys who also find flying and the whole process a little bit daunting.
Something that really helps me feel less anxious about a trip in an airplane is making sure I’ve got absolutely everything I need at least a few days in advance, including tickets, my hand luggage, what I’m going to wear and anything else I can plan beforehand to help keep my mind at ease. With my plane tickets I usually get them electronically, so I print them out and either put them in a safe place or ask the person I’m going with to put them in a safe place for me. Asking someone else to look after them who doesn’t get panicky about flying really helps me because I know when the time comes to go, they’ll have them all safe and ready and it’s one less thing for me to worry about.
Regarding hand luggage, I always put my small electricals (phone, phone charger etc.) in a separate bit of my bad to the rest of my stuff, just in case I’m asked to remove them from my bag. I keep liquids and any makeup in a little plastic bag from home in my bag so it’s all ready to go when I get to security and make sure any jewellery I wear is easy to take off. It’s just these little things that I can do to help prepare me for my journey, as I don’t know about you, but going through security can be one of the most scary parts even though I know I’ve done nothing wrong!
GETTING YOUR ANXIETY UNDER CONTROL
Another thing which really helps me is knowing I have resources and ways I can manage my anxiety if it does, for whatever reason, flare up. One of these ways is by using my mindfulness techniques I’ve learnt through my CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), which include breathing techniques to calm down from a panic attack and thinking rationally about my irrational thoughts.
A breathing technique I’ve learnt recently is called (well I call it anyway) ‘The Square’. Basically, when you have a flare up or you start to hyperventilate from an attack, try to imagine a square. Up the left side of the square you breathe in for two seconds, across the top of the square you hold for two seconds, across the right side of the square you breathe out for two seconds and when you get to the bottom, you hold for two seconds again. Repeat this process until your breathing becomes back to normal. It might sound silly but it’s helped me in the past- instead of focusing on the panic you feel, you’re focusing on the square which helps calm you down a lot faster. If this doesn’t work for you try the links below to see if any of the techniques help you.
When going into a situation which you find scary, rational thinking is always key in helping you feel safer and more at ease about what you’re doing. For me, I always try and remind myself of the questions my CBT therapist always asked me- ‘What is the worst thing that could happen? How likely is this?’. Personally, the worst thing that could happen would be either a) the plane crashing or b) me getting so worked up whilst in the air that I can’t calm down and I’ll feel trapped. As my Dad is an Airline Captain, he’s always helped with the whole ‘oh my goodness, the plane is GOING to crash!’ bit. Statistically, it’s more likely that you’ll be hit by a car walking down a street than being in a plane that’s going to crash, and unless you’ve been unfortunate enough to be hit by a car whilst going about your day (really sorry if you have been), the chances of the plane crashing is really very little. Another important thing to remember is that pilots plan for emergency situations ALL the time. My Dad is a Training Captain too, which means he goes into a simulator with potential pilots and teaches them how to fly. He goes through emergency situations with them ‘all the time’ (his words exactly) and he doesn’t pass them unless he would be fully comfortable with me or my sister being flown by them. Now I know this might not be the same for everyone, but the majority of training captains my dad knows do exactly the same thing, so it’s important to remind yourself that the safety of the plane is not in your hands, but in the hands of a very capable pilot who WILL know what to do if something goes wrong.
With regards to becoming so worked up that I can’t calm down, this too is pretty unlikely. While it’s completely possible that you might feel anxious in the air (people who don’t even have anxiety get freaked out by it so it’s completely normal!), not being able to calm down isn’t. If I think back to all the times I’ve have had a panic attack, and for me it’s a lotttt, there hasn’t been a time that I haven’t calmed down after half an hour when I’ve been using all the tools and breathing techniques I know, as well as being comforted by loved ones. And I’m hopeful that it’s the same for you. Therefore, the likelihood of having a panic attack longer than this time (it might be less/longer for you) is unlikely, especially when you have your resources in place (I’ll link some sheets below that might help you). With regards to breathing, you can medically only go so long with iffy breathing until you faint. Whilst you hyperventilate, your body gets too much oxygen and your brain gets too little CO2 which causes your body the need to ‘restart’ itself which is when you faint, and if you think of all the time’s you’ve fainted whilst having a panic attack (I never have), then it is very unlikely you will get to that bad of a state whilst in the air. Also just another thing to mention, even though your anxiety is unlikely to become unmanageable in the air, it’s important to recognise you could still feel very uncomfortable with your anxiety whilst you are on your flight. For this I’d recommend entertainment (next section!) and using breathing techniques and rational thinking to get you through the flight as well as you can.
Something that I think really helps anxious flyers is having entertainment. Whether that’s a Disney movie on a long flight, or a good book on a shorter flight, having enough entertainment to keep your mind busy and stop it wondering what the worst case scenario could be is super helpful. It doesn’t even need to be something you physically do, listening to music is just as helpful (for me anyway). On flights and places I get anxious, I like to stick to songs that either I’m really familiar with, ones that calm me down such as worship music, or that make me happy and super excited to arrive at my destination to start the holiday! Try to stay away from songs without lyrics as your mind may wonder, and from songs that can bring you down, but otherwise I think listening to music can really help. Basically, just try to avoid just sitting in your seat and thinking about all the things that could go wrong, because as a sufferer of anxiety, I know it’s all too easy to think and think until you end up in a little black hole of bad thoughts you can’t seem to get out of. So, kick back, do something you love to do, relax and look forward to your holiday!
VOCALISE YOUR FEARS
For ages I didn’t tell anyone I suffered with anxiety which is something I always regret, as I could’ve got help sooner and it’s the same with vocalising your fears with flying. Talking to the people you trust and the people you are travelling with (if not travelling alone) about your worries and every little thing that is scaring you about the journey is so helpful and really lifts a huge weight off your shoulders. I first time I flew without my family was with my boyfriend last year and to be honest I was SO scared of all the little things that could go wrong. I decided to talk to him and once I did, I felt so much better- we managed to plan everything we possibly could, he kept the tickets safe for me and we even had back-up plans incase things went wrong. He was amazing and if you vocalise your feelings to your family, friends, people you are travelling with or even the people next to you on the plane if you are travelling solo, I’m absolutely certain they will help you and lift you up to make you feel so much better about everything you are worried about.
I hope this helped some of you and I know flying can be super scary but if I can do a 10+ hour trip after an awful breakdown in America, you can do it, I promise.
Keep smiling lovelies and I hope you all have the best holiday!
All my love,