12 July 2015

Flying Anxiety

I've previously mentioned in some blog posts that I have quite a lot of anxiety when it comes to flying. I've never been one to be okay with planes and airports, I don't really know why. I'm not really good with most public transport, apart from a car. I know you can say so many times that 'A plane is the safest way to travel', I swear if I hear that one more time I'm going to hit someone. The fact is, saying that to someone with anxiety of travelling, especially planes, really doesn't make things any better. In fact, for me, it just made things worse. 

I got laughed at quite a lot when I told people that I was scared of flying. My biggest fear was that the plane was going to get hijacked or someone was going to come on with a weapon and hurt everyone. I realise now how strict security is in airports, and although now you may laugh at that, it's my own personal fear. 

Recently, I've been on holiday, and this involved me going on a plane. This was a massive step for me and it really didn't make things easier. It got to about 3 days before I was due to go away and I was so close to cancelling because I didn't want to go on a plane. However, I knew I had to face my fears. I was extremely unwell on the morning of my flight; all the other girls were so excited to go to Disney whereas I got myself very very worked up and made myself ill. Nevertheless, I got through the flight and on the way home, I was a lot calmer. Not 100% calm, but I didn't have a panic attack, which was a massive deal for me, because I'm normally the girl in the toilets trying to calm herself down. Anyway, today, I'm going to write about what helps me to stay calm when flying. 

1) Try not to think about it too much
This is a silly point really, because how can you not think about something that is scaring you so much. I found that going round the duty free and going for some food, if you feel like it, really helped me to calm myself down and take my mind off things for a little while. I also found that getting water and taking regular sips helped too. 

2) Watch the planes
Again, silly if you're like me and cannot even look at a plane without feeling anxious. However, I got all of my courage together and a few weeks before we flew out, I went to the plane watching centre. I don't know if all airports have one of these, I know Manchester does. It allows you to go and watch planes take off and make yourself familiar with the environment. That helped a lot, as did watching the planes in the airport. If they can take off okay, then so can you. 

3) Realise that you're not on your own
When I was on the flight, my mum was tracking it from home. She was watching where abouts we were and was looking at what time we were going to land. When she showed me what she was doing on the way home, I realised that so many people were in the air at the moment. So many planes were taking off, so many people were feeling the same way I did and it was okay to be scared. 

4) People do this for a living
People actually work on planes for a living. The air hostesses and pilots do this every single day, even twice a day. If they can survive it then so can you. If they don't seem to be panicking then there really is nothing to worry about. 

5) Make the staff aware of your fear
When I went onto the flight, I was actually crying. Yep. You can laugh but it really wasn't funny at the time. I was absolutely petrified. When the staff saw that I was upset walking onto the plane, they asked me if I was okay and I explained that I was very scared of flying. They helped to reassure me that everything was going to be okay and kept checking on me during the flight to make sure that everything was fine. 

6) Take advantage if you have friends on the flight with you
I could not have got through the flight without the girls who I was going to Disney with but also my friends who were staying in England. They were constantly texting me in the airport to make sure that I was okay and to take my mind off things as well as to reassure me. On the flight, the girls held my hands and we had silly conversations about nonsense in order to take my mind off things. 

7) Read the safety
I know this will probably scare you, it scared me, knowing that something could possibly go wrong. Familiarising myself with the safety and preparing myself as much as possible if the worst did happen really helped me to calm down. I needed to make sure that I was as prepared as possible. The biggest fear was leaving my family and friends behind; I wasn't ready to die yet. It's about accepting that what will be will be and being thankful for the life you've lived so far. 

8) It's okay to cry and have a panic attack
Never ever ever ever ever ever think that it isn't okay for you to cry or have a panic attack or anything. It is completely okay. It's fear, it's your own personal fear and if that's your natural way of dealing with it to make yourself be okay, then never feel ashamed. 

9) Music
Listen to music, think about the place you're heading too. Think about the end result. Think about how happy you're going to be there, what you're going to do, how much fun you're going to have. Make a playlist of music that makes you happy and makes you want to dance, it'll take your mind off things and cheer you up a lot.

10) Prepare
In order to make things less stressful in the mornings, prepare for where you're going. Make sure that everything is packed, make sure you have all of your important documents and lay out your clothes that you will be travelling in the night before you set off. It really helps to make things a little less stressful. 

I hope that helped some of you in one way or another. I'm sorry if it hasn't really worked, but something that also helped me was the breathing exercises I posted about in my blog post all about anxiety in education. You should check that out!

Lots of Love
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