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I used to not have fear about flying. Traveling the world was a luxury I had because of my military service- flying for trainings, deployment and for fun. It was the most relaxing part of the trip. But on one flight to China, we hit bad turbulence, and my fear started. I refused to name it, and flew a few more times, always white knuckling it the entire flight. I finally told my husband that I didn’t want to fly anymore. Luckily, around that time is when I started teaching, we got a dog and life was more settled down. But my anxiety was high just thinking about flying. Travel is a big part of me, so I knew I’d need to fly again someday. Well, I’m currently en route to Rome after flying across the Atlantic Ocean. Here are some things I have been doing to prepare myself for this international flight.
Make flying something you see people constantly do
They say the best way to get over a fear is just to do it. Well, this is where social media comes in handy. Instead of actual flight time exposure, I lived through those I followed on instagram. I started to follow some pilots and flight attendants and flying hashtags. I needed my brain to recognize there are thousands of people in the air everyday. Some of the people I follow are Kale in the Clouds, Pilot Emilie, and Flight Attendant Joe. (I also read his book- if you like crass humor I recommend it and his podcast). I made sure to check out their stories on Instagram. Seeing them take off and land safely day after day calmed my brain down.
Read all about flying to calm fears
A lot of people recommend reading the stats. And those of us with a fear of flying always say “fear isn’t rational so facts don’t calm us down!” People tell us that flying is the safest way to travel and I’ve heard that stat so many times. I listened to Cockpit Confidential and the pilot author explains things so matter of factly. It helped me to listen to the audiobook while packing for my trip. I also listened to it while flying. It made me feel like I had a pilot next to me on the flight telling me that all this is normal and not worry. What was also helpful for me was watching the Virgin Atlantics short video on YouTube. It’s a pilot explaining the sounds and what is happening during an actual flight. These two things helped me talk to myself while we hit turbulence during the flight. Repeating facts back to myself kept my brain focused and not able to spiral to a frenzy panic.
Have your calming items with you to fly
Everyone has things that we know calm us down. When I’m stressing out, focusing on something like soduku is too hard. But coloring requires no brain power and keeps me focused on something other than panic. A great podcast series will also help keep your brain busy. I also packed some Four Sigmatic cocoa, it has reishi mushroom to help you chill. A few days before my flight I would get in the habit of drinking a cup. That way when I had a cup on the flight, my mind would recognize this as something that calms me down. Also I pack an anxiety essential oil blend. I apply to my wrists when I start to feel anxious before we even take off. Whatever you need to do, make sure you pack it in your personal bag so it’s accessible during your flight.
Tell others about your fear of flying
The first few flights after I had a fear of flying sucked. It felt like I was dying on the inside but didnt want to tell anyone or have it show. It’s so much easier to have someone next to you that can say something reassuring when you start to get overwhelmed. My husband will look at me and say “we are just turning, its okay” since he can see me start to clench my fists. Plus naming your fear out loud makes you own it, and then you can work to control it.
Those are some of the things I have done lately so I was prepared to fly. I was honestly surprised how calm I stayed on this flight to Europe. Considering last fall when I flew from denver to Vegas I was stressed out for a month before and super high anxiety the entire 2 hour flight! I know everyone who hates to fly has thier tips and tricks- you gotta find what works for you. I just know that I have to continually work to control my anxiety, because I have a serious case of wanderlust and flying is really the only way to get around. Tell me your coping strategies when you fly in the comments below. Maybe your strategy is what will really help someone else!