Dealing with Anxiety on the Plane!

Hi everyone. As I type this I am being hurled through the sky in a giant metal box but it isn’t as bad as it sounds! Yes, I’m on the plane to Houston!Β 

By the time you read this though I’ve already been in Houston for a day. I keep joking that since I’m flying United I hopefully won’t be beaten off the plane or bitten by a scorpion. Haha I have a terrible sense of humor don’t I!

This trip is for work but I’m still going to be blogging. I didn’t get the chance to write as many posts ahead of time as I wanted but that’s okay. I will improvise as the week goes on. I have long hours scheduled so I hope you won’t hold it against me if I have to do a shorter post later this week. I’ll make it up to you next month! (Look out for a special announcement on this when I return!!!)

Back to the blog post. Today I’m going to be writing about how I prepare for flights and trips.

I’m an anxious person and I will admit that I’ve suffered from panic attacks in the past. I don’t try to hide this but I don’t think I’ve been as open about it as I could be on my blog. This is because even through I went through about 7-8 months of daily panic attacks (I’m talking at least once a day, usually multiple a day) and I consider myself very lucky as I haven’t had one in about 2 years.

While I’ve never been diagnosed I still consider myself as someone who suffers from anxiety because I constantly worry I’ll have another. It’s been 2 years and I still worry! This causes me a lot of added stress when I travel and that’s honestly why I don’t as much as I wish I could. I don’t fear flying (more than the healthy amount anyway) but I do fear the lack of places to go if I have anxiety.

I don’t take medications so I rely on other methods to keep calm. I know everyone is different so while this might not help everyone this is what works for me and if it helps at least one person I’ll be pleased.

Before the flight

Before I travel I make sure that all my electronics are fully charged and so are my portable chargers. Especially my phone and iPad. My music is all on my iPad and music really helps calm me. Right now I’m listening to Hamilton so I’m a happy little clam right now.

My phone is the most important for me right now because I am going to use it to make sure I can get to my hotel. I’m pretty much just going to jump in a cab but having it charged and ready to look up directions or something like that is important. Normally when I travel I wouldn’t take a cab and would rely on public transportation so I would definitely need it! I’m only taking a cab today because I can get reimbursed by the client for it! I’m a cheap traveler on my own!

I always make sure to have at least some cash on me. I put travel alerts on my card so that my bank knows that I actually am in the city where the card is being used and won’t decline anything up just in case I have cash to tide me over until I can get that fixed if it happens.

In addition to electronic devices I also actually have most of my travel docs printed as well. I am so much calmer if I know that I have a backup plan for various situations. I know I won’t have all situations covered but having two or three alternatives is sooooo helpful for me. Yes, I’m carrying extra stuff but a few pieces of paper isn’t going to hurt and it works for me. I’d be silly to leave it.

At the airport

I am at my gate wayyyyyy before boarding starts. Today (Sunday) aka yesterday for you reading this, I left home three hours before my flight as the airport is about an hour away. It was early so traffic wasn’t an issue otherwise I probably would have left four hours or more before. I checked in two hours before and then sat with my family for a bit. We are constantly all together, especially for airport drop offs and pick ups. We only hung out maybe 10 minutes before I headed into the line to security. It was not busy but I wasn’t taking any chances.

Once I was through security I immediately looked for where my gate was. I stopped at Starbucks (shockingly short line!) and then continued to my gate. Caffeine affects my anxiety so I have my usual chai tea latte which is very low levels of caffeine and I also grab a coffee cake so I have something to eat that’s not too heavy. I get so cranky if I don’t eat and I don’t want to be anxious and hangry!

I don’t listen to music while waiting to hear any announcements as sometimes gates can change. It hasn’t happened to me but I know it does and I don’t want to miss my flight!

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On the plane

On the plane I settle in and try to relax. I don’t have anxiety about being close to other people but I normally will take a window or aisle seat. My flight was booked by someone else and he chose a window seat for me. Right now I’m next to a lovely couple who are nice and minding their own business. Phew!

I’ve been on many flights but I also look at the safety card and listen to the presentation just because. It doesn’t help or hurt honestly for me. If I get to use a life vest or the masks come down I’ll worry about that then. I know lots of people worry about the plane experiencing problems but my anxiety usually comes from things I can’t do correctly and should be able to (like get to the correct gate or something, side effect of my desire for perfection probably).

Oh when the plane takes off I hum Metallica quietly. I don’t particularly like take off or landings but I mostly do this because of Dean Winchester from the tv show Supernatural. (Anyone remember that plane episode? I think it was season 1! So long ago now.) Take offs and landings are when my nerves are at their highest when I’m on the plane. If I can, I’m listening to music or already asleep. Yep, I fell asleep before the plane even detached and slept through take off once. That was years ago when I studied abroad in Europe. Spring break in Paris was exhausting!

Once in the air I’m fine, I just do keep an eye on where the bathroom is. In case I feel anxious then I can go hide out in there. I always have an exit planned! Fun fact, I always get water when they come through with drinks so if I need to go to the bathroom it won’t look suspicious. Not that anyone would probably judge me but I don’t want strangers speculating about my bathroom habits! But I’m fine otherwise. Well I’m listening to music so maybe that’s why. I made my flight and that’s as much as I can do to get to my destination.

For landing I will still be listening to music and trying to plan what to do when I land. For example, I have to wait until the couple leave since I’m at the window and I’m not in a hurry so I might wait even longer. Then I’ll grab my suitcase from the overhead compartment and head out. My goal will then be finding a cab and getting to my hotel without dying of heat stroke! I think I’ll be just fine.

Now my fate is in someone else’s hands and I just have to wait for landing. Then next weekend I get to do it all over again…

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For now, writing this post has been incredibly helpful! It’s also taken most of the flight as well so that’s awesome. Btw the napkins on the flight have cute designs of world monuments. I have the Great Wall of China and the Mayan pyramids of Mexico! I haven’t been to either but I want to see the pyramids when my family finally takes our Cancun vacation someday!

What about you? Do you have any tips for fighting anxiety when you travel or nerves about flying in general?

Thanks for reading!

8 comments

  1. This is a wonderful post, Pamela! I enjoyed reading it. I’ve never been on a plane myself, but the day I do, I’ll appreciate all of the tips on dealing with anxiety that I can get, hahaha!!! I’m pretty well figuring that I’ll be SUPER anxious and scared about being in the air, but who knows lol. Music would definitely help me a lot; I’ll have to keep that in mind. Enjoy your time in Houston! xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah it’s not so bad once it’s flying steady. Take offs and landings are more nerve wracking for me. But I just focus on the music and it’s over before I know it!!! I enjoy it, I just stress about actually getting onto the plane. πŸ˜‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m glad you enjoy it! Ugh yes, I can imagine how stressful getting there and boarding the plane must be. And when I finally fly on a plane for the first time, I’ll be boarding at the Atlanta airport, which I don’t expect to be any fun at all 😱 Haha!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve never been to the Atlanta one but I’m sure you’d be okay!!! Luckily there are signs everywhere and if they don’t help ask someone! Airport employees are grumpy but they help. πŸ˜… And then all you have to do is pay attention to announcements so you know when to board!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hahahahaha yeah!!! But I’m glad you enjoyed my post and I hope it helps when you finally get on a plane. I think generally it’s hard to get lost because all doors are marked with “employee only” type signs.

        Liked by 1 person

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