Most people are surprised to hear that I despise flying. The process of buying the tickets and the idea of leaving town via air is fine. But when it comes to the physical aspect of flying, it gives me a lot of anxiety.
The sheer thought of being in a metal cylinder with wings that somehow manages to float 30,000 feet in the air at 600 mph? How are people not concerned about that? Seriously though, I dream of the day where we can teleport to our destination.
Until that glorious day of teleportation, I’m going to share how I manage my fear of flying without medication or an emotional support animal.
- Sleep - This is the best and most obvious tip I can give to someone with a fear of flying. Once you fall asleep, you're missing most of the flight hence the low anxiety. If you need help with sleeping, take melatonin, a natural way to promote sleep. Melatonin is fairly cheap, like Nature Made Melatonin or Good Night Dust, which is my favorite.
- Make a Playlist - Take some time to compose a playlist of songs you love or songs that are calming. If you use apps like Spotify, you'll be able to search for "relaxation" playlists - just make sure you make it available offline. If not, look up classical music or spa music.
- Neck Pillow / Hat - When nervous, our necks can get tense. That's why resting your head and neck can make things more relaxing. A more personal experience, I love wearing a beanie or a baseball cap. Somehow it makes me feel more secure. A friend of mine asks for extra blanket to cover her entire body. To each their own!
- Give Yourself a Task - You can't sleep or don't want to consume melatonin? No problem. Figure out the length of the flight and assign yourself tasks for that amount of time. Perhaps you have some work to get done, a blog that needs editing, read a book, bring a coloring book, cross-stitch, write a letter to your Grandparents (they'll love it!), edit photos...but you get it, just keep busy!
- Avoid Caffeine - Avoid caffeine 4-6 hours prior to flying. Caffeine can encourage nervousness, restlessness, increased heart rate, none of which you want in addition to your already existing fear of flying.
- Look at the Flight Attendant - Let's think about how these flight attendants do this for a living. Most turbulence isn't going to phase them so if you start getting nervous, look over at a crew member. You'll see their calmness and feel much better.
- Use the Am I Going Down app - I discovered this app a few months ago and have been surprised by how many people knew about it. It's a simple app where you put your originating airport, your destination, airline and the type of aircraft. Then the app calculates the chances of your plane crashing. As morbid as it sounds, the whole point of it is to show you how little the chances are of your plane going down. When my anxiety is high, I'll use it and it surprisingly makes me feel better.
Here are some facts about plane crashes that may make you feel better:
- The chance of your plane going down is around 1 in 5.4 million (source).
- Traveling by car is 100 times more deadly than flying (source).
- Since the take-off is most dangerous, flying 10,000 miles isn't twice as risky as flying 5,000 (source).
- The chance of you getting killed by a shark, bee sting and lightning are more likely (source).
Obviously none of this is the ultimate cure all of flight anxiety but if you suffer from it or know someone that does, I hope these tips help! Not only do I travel a lot now, I was in the airline industry and my last job involved frequent travel. None of that ever lessened my flight anxiety because as soon as the plane wiggles, I’m breaking a sweat. So know you’re not alone!
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