I’ll be honest, I’ve never flown long haul before. The longest flight I had been on was to Portugal and that was only three hours. Going from that to travelling for 28 hours… I struggled. The whole moving process brought up my anxiety more than I thought, but the travelling was a lot harder than I thought.
I like to imagine my anxiety as a small child. If my anxiety doesn’t have enough sleep, food and water – it starts to play up. So flying, waiting about and travelling for 28 hours was not a vibe.
After 28 hours, 2 planes, a bus and a taxi, we made it to our hotel.
I wanted to share all the tips and tricks that I picked up that will help flying when you have anxiety.
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Sleeping when you can
Although flights are exciting, sleeping is super important. If you don’t try and sleep, you will regret it. After my first flight, I thought I would just sleep at the airport.
Oh, how I was wrong.
When you have the chance, sleep and recharge your batteries.
Things that helped me sleep on the second flight was:
- An eye mask, as it was UK night but daylight on my second flight, the plane was bright. Using an eye mask solved this problem.
- A neck pillow. If you’re flying economy, like I was, bring a neck pillow!!
- Earphones/earbuds. If like to sleep with music or noise, bring headphones. I found it easier to sleep with the headphones on than listening to everyone chat on the plane.
Drink a lot of water (try avoiding alcohol)
Keep your water topped up at all times. Keeping yourself hydrated is really important. Although flights are exciting and it’s the start of your journey, if you’re flying long haul – try to avoid alcohol. If you suffer from anxiety, mixing alcohol, enclosed spaces and questionable smells is not a good idea.
Alcohol can be a trigger for anxiety, if you are on a plane for a long period of time, I do not recommend drinking.
The downfall of drinking so much water is needing the toilet. I was a window seat for both my flights… having to squeeze out to use the toilet every hour got a little annoying I’m sure, but when you got to go, you got to go.
Bring snacks (Just in case you don’t like the plane food)
As I mentioned above, food, sleep and water are the three main things you need to keep topped up. Plane food is… questionable. If you know you’re a little fussy – bring snacks for the plane.
Sadly the plane food is limited.
**Tip. plane food is served at your destinations time. For example, if you’re flying at 12am and your destination time is 8am, they will serve you breakfast at 12am because it’s breakfast time where you’re going… it’s very strange but just a heads up!
I’m not the best flyer, mainly taking off and landing. If you are similar – practice breathing techniques before you go. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, don’t start using breathing techniques when you need them, practice beforehand. This helps build a subconscious reaction.
My go-to breathing technique is the balloon technique.
Imagine you have a balloon inside your stomach. Taking a deep breath in and out – imagine you’re blowing up the balloon and then releasing the air.
It’s such a simple technique, but really effective as it distracts your brain from being anxious.
I used this technique for the whole landing process and it reduced my anxiety.
Having a sick bag at the ready
If you feel nauseous when you feel anxious, like me, carrying a sick bag for flights is a must. I used a sick bag on both of my flights.
I do this for a number of reasons.
- If you’re going to be sick, it’s better to be sick in a bag than on yourself. Can you imagine the smell of sick lingering on a long haul flight… not the best.
- If you feel nauseous during take-off and landing – you’re unable to use the toilet as it is locked. A paper bag is now your best friend.
- Peace of mind. This is the main reason why I used one. Knowing that I had the option to be sick if I wanted… made me feel less anxious.
If you know you’re going to be on a nine hour flight, prepare for those nine-hours.
My anxiety plays up when I’m overthinking. I overthink when my brain isn’t doing anything. Sitting in complete silence with nothing to do, for that period of time is a disaster for me. This is a great tip for flying with anxiety, be prepared!
If you have similar anxiety, plan for the flight. Some fun ideas are:
- Download movies (Bring your chargers, there are usually plugs on the plane)
- Puzzle books
- Mini board games (Amazon offer magnet board games which are great for flying)
- Playing cards
- A book
- A drawing pad and pens
- Notebook (to journal)
Understand that turbulence is normal
Flying can be scary as it is, but turbulence can happen and the best thing I can say is turbulence is completely normal. Every flight I’ve been on has had turbulence at one point.
Although at the time it may seem scary, depending on the amount you have, reassure yourself that it’s normal and very common.
If you are struggling, try using the breathing techniques from above and listening to some music. It’s about distracting your anxiety.
Flying when you have anxiety
If you’re planning on flying long haul or even a short journey when you have anxiety, following these 7 tips will help reduce anxiety and hopefully make the journey more enjoyable overall.
What helps you when you fly?
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