It’s that time of year again. You’ve got your flights booked, your bags packed, and you know you should be excited to head home and to see your family, but sometimes that’s not always the case. If you think you’re weird for being an anxious flyer, you’re not. You are not alone. It’s a fear that is more common than I realized before I became a flight attendant. As someone who thrives off of taking care of others, I genuinely enjoy helping people stay relaxed and have a more enjoyable flying experience. It’s not always easy and every person is different. I try my best to be very understanding and compassionate. But because I know I can’t personally help every single person out there, I thought writing this post could help guide you in the right direction. Please also feel free to pass it onto any friends, family members, or anyone you know who is afraid of flying or has anxiety over flying.
I know it’s scary to be vulnerable, but please try your best to work up the courage to tell your neighbor or at least one flight attendant about your anxiety or fear of flying. I promise we will try our best to help you any way we can. Whenever I’ve had anxious flyers who made it known that they were nervous about taking off, I would make it a point to check in with him/her throughout the flight. I pay special attention to passengers who need it, whether that be providing a glass of water after takeoff or offering casual conversation as a distraction.
Meditation has been known to help relieve stress and anxiety for years. It’s no different on the plane! I would highly suggest that as soon as you get settled in your seat, immediately putting on your headphones and closing your eyes. Whether you use an app (Headspace is a great one) or simply play nature sounds or music, start meditating. I find that a lot of anxiety around traveling can stem from the madness of the airport, not just flying alone. As soon as you’re able to clear your mind and shake off the stress of TSA and running to your gate, just breathe, relax, and be present. This would also help immensely prior to taking off, which could be a scary feeling for nervous flyers.
I know those little seats on the plane don’t allow a ton of room for activities, BUT I would highly recommend packing a book you’ve been excited to read, your iPad or laptop for movies, your phone with a playlist of your favorite or new songs, etc. The airline I work for offers free movies and TV shows on all mobile devices, which is pretty amazing! But just in case the flight you’re on doesn’t offer those amenities, just make sure you have something to do! Other cool things I’ve seen people do on the plane: knitting, cross stitching, coloring, card games. Not recommended: yoga in the galley.
BRING COMFORT ITEMS
Whether it’s your favorite blanket or a picture of your dog. Bring a piece of home with you that will make you feel cozy and comforted. We sometimes underestimate the power of comfort items! As you might know, essential oils are all the rage right now but for great reason! There are some scents that have been known to help us relax: lavender, rose, chamomile, frankincense, ylang ylang, and bergamot are all great options! I just purchased a peppermint one last week (’cause ’tis the season) and personally, I find that it really relaxes me, if you want to give that a try too!
KEEP A TIMER
This might help for some people and might not for others, but keeping a timer is worth a shot! Personally, I like to know how much time is left in the flight. From a flight attendant’s perspective, it’s a gage for when we need to go out with our inflight service. From a passenger’s perspective, it’s comforting to know that landing is just another episode of Spongebob away.
WRITE A LETTER or MAKE A LIST
What are you traveling for? Who are you visiting? What are you looking forward to? Write a letter to who you’re visiting and tell them how excited you are to see them. OR alternatively, make a list of all the things you’re excited to see, do, and eat! Keeping a positive mindset will not only help distract you from your current surroundings, but our minds are so incredibly powerful. Who knows if the excitement for your travels will take over your fear of flying! Fingers crossed!
So dear anxious flyer, I really hope this post helps you in some way. A handful of people messaged me on Instagram (further proof you’re not alone) asking about this topic specifically, so I figured it might help to share this with you. Happy Holidays and safe travels to you and yours! Xo