A fear of flying should never stop you from travelling to new places and experiencing other parts of that world, so if you find yourself grabbing the armrest at every little bump, it is important to find ways to stay calm.
We all know that flying is the safest way to travel, so why is it so stressful? Loud noises, bumps, shakes, and unfamiliar sensations coupled with the heights and fear of an emergency or accident make flying unsettling for many travellers – even regular passengers. To enjoy your next trip, here are 15 ways to help keep your cool and overcome airplane anxiety:
- Treat Yourself Well
Make sure you get enough sleep and eat well before your flight. If you’re tired, you’re going to be less capable of managing stressful situations. Also, if you fill up on candy or fast food before takeoff, you are more likely to feel antsy or unwell.
- Have a Few Types of Distractions Ready to Go
One movie or book may not do the trick if your nerves are on edge, so give yourself a few options. When I’m anxious on the plane (yes, I’m a nervous flyer AND a travel writer), I sometimes have to try a few different activities to distract myself. Scrolling through a few movie, music, or book choices helps refocus your energy.
- Try to Focus on Your Space
Do your best to focus on your immediate space and try to block out anything else that’s happening around you. I avoid looking around the plane or out the windows so that I can concentrate on what I’m doing and try to forget where I am.
- Listen to Stand Up Comedy
Laughter is the best remedy so line up something you know will make you laugh. You may not be allowed to use your laptop if its turbulent, so it’s best to download something you can listen to on your phone.
- Start Chatting
Talking to a neighbour is another good way to get your mind on something else and help the time go by more quickly. If you’re flying solo, simply ask someone near you if they don’t mind having a quick chat while you calm down. Just try to keep it short so they don’t feel stuck talking to you the entire flight! Ask them questions and try to find other topics to discuss besides your nerves.
- Try Something Active
It can be difficult to focus on a movie or book when you’re anxious. Sometimes I ‘read’ the same page over and over, not even registering the words. Try journaling, writing your postcards, touching up your makeup, or anything that keeps your hands moving.
- Keep Yourself ‘Grounded’
One trick to minimising anxiety is to identify five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. This tactic helps refocus your mind during those times when you start to get caught up in worries.
- Keep Your Music Light and Relaxed
Choose music you know will help calm you down – whatever genre that may be! I usually listen to softer, acoustic songs or classical music when I get nervous to help put me in the right state of mind.
- Take Cues from the Flight Attendants and Seasoned Travellers
Flight attendants have seen it all, so watching them will tell you whether it’s really necessary to be stressed. If they’re still passing out drinks and snacks, you probably don’t need to worry too much!
- Get Organised
Anxiety, for me, is about control. I hate feeling like there’s nothing I can do in the event of an emergency. So, I try focusing on small tasks that I can control, such as organising my bag or seat pocket, completing a puzzle, or even cleaning your laptop screen.
- Get a Good Luck Charm
While I’m not superstitious, I always travel with my favourite charm bracelet as a bit of good luck. On it, I have a small airplane charm to help remind me that the real ones aren’t any scarier than my little one.
- Bring Your Own Snack and Water
If things get bumpy, flight attendants may not offer refreshments, so have a small snack and your own water bottle on hand. Eating not only serves as a distraction, but also ensures you’re not anxious and ‘hangry’.
- Focus on the Positive
Try thinking about all of the fun things you’re going to do when you arrive at your destination. Making a short list of your itinerary or top attractions is even better, even if you’ve already planned it out. Remembering the great reasons you’re on the plane might ease your stress.
- Know How Safe You Are
No other form of transportation is as scrutinised, investigated, and monitored as commercial aviation. You are very safe up in the air! It’s hard to remember sometimes, but flying truly is the safest way to travel.
- Get to Know the Plane
Before you takeoff, learn a bit more about what sounds and sensations you’re likely to experience on the plane. Knowing what to expect will make noises less startling and assure you that everything is going according to plan.