It’s normal to be nervous before a flight. After all, most people don’t fly regularly, and flying at high altitudes at fast speeds can be an overwhelming prospect. The problem is that if your travel anxiety becomes too intense, it can put a serious damper on your plans.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to alleviate and manage anxiety before boarding, as well as while you’re in the air. Try these five simple de-stressing techniques next time you feel those travel jitters coming on to relieve any travel anxiety.
You may be surprised by both the mental and physical health benefits of meditation. Even a brief session can help you rewire your brain, find focus, and just breathe a little easier.
It’s no secret that the day of a flight can be hectic. To combat that stress, pack your bags and prepare your paperwork at least a day in advance. That way, when the big day comes, you don’t have to overthink it.
On the day of the flight, give yourself a little bit of extra time to sit in silence and breathe slowly and deeply. Simply calming your mind can work wonders.
You can also do some light meditation on the way to the airport, in line, while waiting to board, and during the flight. Of course, sitting cross-legged on the plane isn’t practical, but simply reminding yourself that you’re calm and safe as a mantra can help you to avoid intrusive thoughts.
2. Remember The Facts
Statistically, air travel is safer than car travel. While airplane crashes can occur, they’re extremely rare. And, on the off-chance that you’re involved in a crash, your chances of survival are much higher than you may assume.
Because airplane accidents are so rare, there’s not a whole lot of data to work with.
However, the US National Transportation Safety Board reviewed aviation accidents from 1983-1999 and found that over 95% of passengers survived. Additionally, 55% survived even the most serious accidents.
While you probably don’t want to dwell too heavily on morbid facts, according to the National Safety Council, the odds of passing away in a plane crash are substantially lower than many other extremely common activities.
For example, the odds of perishing in a car crash are 1 in 114, while the odds of being mortally injured in a plane crash are a mere 1 in 9,821.
Of course, your goal is to stop thinking about accidents entirely! However, if you find yourself struggling to avoid these thoughts, it’s comforting to realize that flying is extremely low on the list of potentially “harmful” activities.
3. Find A Distraction
Never underestimate the power of a good distraction to keep your mind occupied and help you to stay calm under pressure! Instead of sitting idly and letting your fears stew, bring some sort of entertainment.
If you have a portable computer and/or mobile phone, you have plenty of options available, from movies and TV shows to comic books and novels.
In more recent times, portable virtual reality headsets such as the Oculus Quest have become popular flying aids.
Besides allowing you to play video games, a VR headset can put you inside of an incredibly immersive 360-degree movie theater environment where you can watch a movie or TV show on a streaming service.
This approach can be extremely effective because you’re transported to a virtual world—with headphones on, you might even forget that you’re on a plane altogether!
If you suffer from travel anxiety but need to fly regularly, a portable VR headset could be a very worthwhile investment.
4. Review Safety Procedures
When it comes to flying, your mindset should be expecting the best while planning for the worst. All too often, travel anxiety is rooted in the fear of the unknown. You may find your imagination running wild, replaying worst-case scenarios over and over in your head.
If you know how to respond to an emergency, you may be able to stop those ‘what-if’ thoughts.
Before flying, you may want to review FAA safety information so you know exactly what to do if a crash occurs. While you’re probably not actually going to need to use any of the information, just knowing that you’re prepared can help you to stop overthinking things.
5. Take The Right Supplements
While it may be tempting to perch at the airport bar before your flight, getting tipsy may actually exacerbate your anxiety. Instead of a cocktail, consider taking natural stress-reducing supplements.
CBD is a legal, hemp-derived supplement that has grown quite popular as a natural anti-anxiety solution, and flying with CBD is legal as long as you follow all the proper procedures.
Just be sure to check with the airport in advance just to make sure that you’re complying with all local regulations.
Besides taking CBD or your preferred anti-anxiety supplement, you should also consider your preflight diet. When it comes to stress management, your overall health plays a major role.
Instead of grabbing fast food, have a salad. Instead of drinking a soda, get some tea or juice. You’ll find that when your body feels good, your mind follows suit.
In Closing: Focus On The Destination
In all aspects of life—not just flying—the thought is almost always worse than the actual reality. Try to stay grounded, albeit not literally.
The prospect of traveling may feel overwhelming right now, but that’s because you’re viewing the process as one massive obstacle. When the day comes, you’re going to be taking it slow, in manageable increments.
Yes, intrusive thoughts can be difficult or even impossible to eliminate, but your goal is to drown them out with positive thoughts. Traveling is exciting! Try to appreciate the fun parts.
Explore the airport. Have a conversation with a friendly passenger or flight attendant. Get excited to be in a new place. Eventually, you may even start to look forward to your next adventure in the sky.
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About The Author
Tess DiNapoli is an artist, freelance writer, and content strategist. She has a passion for yoga and often writes about health and wellness, but also enjoys covering the fashion industry and the world of fitness.