As I look forward to my epic trip to New Zealand, I am also slightly daunted by the huge amount of time needed to sit on plane in order to reach our destination. Whilst I love travel, adventures and the process of travel I have in recent years become quite a nervous flyer. There have definitely been a few ‘moments’ or as my husband would call them ‘scenes’ where I have been overcome by anxiety mid-flight. Moments where I been totally convinced that ‘we’re all going to die’ which I have loudly exclaimed to my fellow passengers as we were landing in Ottawa in 2015; my anxiety hasn’t thankfully got to the point where it has stopped me from flying. However, there are a few things I make sure I do before and during each flight to ensure I keep on top of my nerves.
Top 5 tips for nervous flyers
Keep busy during the flight
No matter how long the flight it is really important to keep yourself busy. Something to watch, read or keep your mind occupied will not only make the time go faster but it will also help to calm you should the panic set in.
Prior to any flight I make sure I have plenty of books pre downloaded onto my Kindle, a few episodes of something downloaded from Amazon Prime and I often have a notebook
or some adult colouring. I often find colouring can really help to focus my mind and calm me down, (Provided my hands haven’t become to clammy I can’t grip the pencil!). If you are planning to use any devices for watching movies, TV or just listening to music remember to bring your own headphones…the ones provided will never be as comfortable!
Whilst technology is brilliant, I always keep a hard copy book in my hand luggage just in case my Kindle decides to give up without any prior warning; there are also occasions particularly on a long-haul flight when you need a break from staring at a screen.
Talk to the flight attendants and Flight Officers
These guys know their stuff and they deal with nervous passengers all the time, so don’t be embarrassed to ask questions about the flight or the plane. Most airline staff are more than happy to put your mind at ease, remember they do this a lot!
It is always worth making yourself known to the flight staff as a nervous passenger as they will often make a point of checking in with you during the flight and on some airlines, you may even get to have your worries alleviated by the Captain himself.
Practise breathing exercises
Breathing properly can be wonderful to focus on when you need to calm yourself down. There are some great apps to help with this such as Headspace and Breathe2Relax. I tend to use the ‘relax’ function on my Fitbit for 2-5mins to help focus my mind, breathing and attention. Internalising my thoughts to something so simple has often really helped particularly when I have been caught in turbulence during a flight.
70% of our body weight is water based – this is huge! It is a well-accepted fact that flying can significantly increase your risk dehydration. Dehydration can make you feel miserable with headaches, increased lethargy and dry eyes just to name a few symptoms. If you are on a long haul flight, not getting brilliant sleep you don’t want to throw dehydration into the mix as well. Whilst you are flying make sure you are constantly sipping on water to keep your liquids topped up. Remaining fully hydrated will have you stepping off the plane feeling fresh!
Whilst it might be tempting to reach for a gin and tonic to calm your nerves, alcohol consumption can accentuate the effect of dehydration on the body leaving you feeling pretty rough! So skip the Gin and opt for a soft drink or good old fashioned water.
Know your flight information and give yourself time
I often find that knowing roughly how long the flight time is, the countries we will fly over and what the time will be when we land can be quite comforting. Feeling clued up on the basics of flight number, gate number, terminal, right airport (yes there have been a few near misses!) and having plenty of time prior to boarding also reduces any unnecessary stress at the airport leaving you free to grab some food or just sit and chill.
Giving yourself enough time is key to a relaxed departure. Make sure you take heed of the security time when you get to the airport and make sure that all your liquids are separated, in a see through bag and electronic devices are out of their cases ready to be scanned.