Airplanes + Anxiety

ANXIETY ON AIRPLANES - the path to becoming a relaxed traveler. How to relax on a plane when flying makes you anxious.

I want to see the planet with my own eyes. I want to get to know other cultures, experience things that make me a little uncomfortable, enjoy foods that teach me about a countries culture as I indulge, and enjoy brunch with strangers who turn into close freinds for life.  I crave to travel endlessly without a home base, taking a piece of each location inside my soul every time I set out on my next adventure. 

w a n d e r l u s t

How can one word fill my heart with so much joy and wonder, yet make my body convulsively shake and send manic tears streaming down my face? 

For weeks leading up until I have to get on any kind of a flight, I contemplate everything that could possibly go wrong in my head. From crashes to bombs to just simply getting lost alone and unable to find my way, I think about it all.

In the last 365 days I have been on almost 20 planes, and have any of those things happened? NO! Yet, here I am anxious and yet so giddy about our upcoming trip to Thailand. On this vacay I could possibly end up on TEN flights, you heard me right… TEN!  If you’re someone who gets travel anxiety like myself, you can imagine how I am feeling right about now. Terrified

When our last trip came to an end and it was time to head home, I walked down the jetway and onto the airplane, and turned around and ran right back into the boarding area. I was crying, I was shaking, and I could hardly speak. I couldn’t see much of anything, I had complete tunnel vision and every part of my body felt like it was being stabbed with pins and needles.  I was having a full blown panic attack. As I sat on the floor on a hot fucking mess, airport employees and nurses surrounded me and my incredible husband unloaded all of our things from the plane, I finally gave in and shoved a Xanax down my throat and collapsed into my husband’s arms.

Could this situation have been avoided? Yes. I am the most stubborn person when it comes to panic attacks and anxiety. Every time I feel a panic attack coming on, I truly believe “I can get through this, I will be just fine, I do not need chemical assistance” … Do I get ever through it? Sometimes, but not every time. Should have I just taken the pill immediately when I felt my anxiety coming on? In this situation, probably.  

What am I doing to decrease my flight anxiety?

  • Positive reinforcement. Recall all of the flights I have been on and remember that I did in fact get through them all safely. I am going to remember that even in the most uncomfortable turbulence or storms, I always made it through. I have to remind myself that technology is advanced and I need to put my trust in those flying the aircraft.
  • Distractions. Staying busy and creative to get those brain juices flowin! I will be writing a lot, journaling about the trip and all of the new things we will get to experience. In addition, I will be taking a plethora of colored pencils +  coloring books, you know the pretty little ones they have these days for “adults”, I love those. They make me laugh though, why do they call them “adult coloring books” I don’t know if I’ll consider myself a full grown adult even when I’m 70.  I will be my same self, but whose body lost a long argument with gravity. 
  • Loading up on vitamins + supplements. I’ve learned that whenever I am lacking in B12, my mood is not always in the best place. Plus B12 helps you adjust to new time zones and aids with the jet lag. It’s so easy for me to get out of routine when I am in vacation mode, so this time I am going to set alarms on my phone to keep me on track.
  • Taking advantage of airport lounges.  Airport lounges are my absolute favorite thing about traveling! Unlimited free food, free drinks, and some even have massages and spa services at no charge. It’s the perfect place to hide from the hustle and bustle and get some healthy food and relaxation. If you’ve never been into an airport lounge, make sure you’re following me on snapchat @purpose2nourish, I promise to take you on a little tour!
  • Jammin, stay in the mood. I’ve been perfecting playlists for this trip. I will be getting on Spotify Pro, so that I can stay in in my zone at all times. Stay tuned, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite playlists with you soon!
  • Relaxation tools. Essential oils, chemical assistance, a bed in business class, mantras, having a plan for "emergency situations", meditations, distractions, and most importantly accepting the situation. I may have a 14hour struggle bus of a plane ride, but when I land in a new foreign place so much adventure awaits me. I will be looking forward to the positive and getting through the negative minute by minute, I can do this. This time I plan to do whatever I’ve got to do to get where I’m going on time. I refuse to miss another flight due to FEAR. I WILL DO THIS!

Can you relate to this? I'd love to hear about your experiences! Am I missing anything? What gets you through in-flight anxiety? I hate knowing that others struggle with this too, but it sure is comforting to hear I am not in this alone. 

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10 thoughts on “Airplanes + Anxiety

  1. I agree, meditation is such a great tool 🙂 Great post! – Diana

    1. It really is, the best when done regularly. Thanks for reading!

  2. The vitamins and a TON of water also do the trick for me. Without them, I feel like I’m walking off the plane with a perpetually stuffy nose and sore throat!

    1. I completely agree Ritika! B12 saves my life!

  3. I really hope you overcome your anxiety. Travelling is such a wonderful thing to do, I literally couldn’t do without it (seeing as I am a foreigner 🙂 )

    1. Thank you, Aleksandra! I thnk if I can’t get over it on two 14hr flights plus a couple of shorter ones on this trip, it’s never gonna happen!! But you know what, I have some serious faith that it will happen over this trip!

    2. I find looking at other passengers on the flight when I’m feeling anxious really helps me. If they look calm and relaxed everything is probably okay.

      1. That’s a good tip! I’ve tried this one before.

  4. Love this article. Shopping in all of the airport stores for things to do during the flight (magazines, books, food, funny souvineers, games, etc) has always distracted me and calmed me down so that I don’t build up anxiety waiting for the flight. I also love listening to music and distracting myself with conversation when I can. Immediately jumping into an activity on the plane before it even takes off helps me as well.

    1. I did some coloring while on our long journey and it did take the edge off!

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