I have been flying on planes since I was two years old and until recently, have been eager in doing so. But there’s somewhat of a broader issue that has come to light since I have moved to college… my anxiety. This is quite personal and somewhat new for me to experience. Ever since moving away, I have experienced heightened emotions and anxious thoughts that make me pretty scared to do the one thing that I want to do in life, which is to see the world.
I am not at all an expert in how to deal with anxiety. But for me, particularly when flying, I find that the more comfortable I can be on a flight, the less I worry about nearly impossible scary situations happening. I like to dress in what makes me feel good. I like to distract myself from some of the more nerve-wracking portions of a flight and try to enjoy the more fun aspects! Here are some of the things I try to do to make myself comfortable and to combat my anxiety on airplanes:
- Wear Socks — It sounds sort of weird, but I always make sure I am wearing socks and close-toed shoes with whatever outfit I am getting on the plane with! This is because I like to try and sleep on a plane as much as I can. If I can sleep on a plane, it is the ultimate answer to my anxiety! There’s no active worrying happening in my head and it makes the entire experience go quicker so I don’t have to think about it. I wear socks on a plane so that I can take my shoes off and feel more comfortable and less restricted. I don’t recommend doing this in an obvious manner just in case some people around you aren’t a fan, but I do believe your biggest priority is you so at the same time, do what you have to do!
- Listen to Music — I’m sure lots of people already do this and don’t need me to tell them to, but I find during high stress flight moments that burying myself in music is an easy distraction from the physical feeling of the plane. You can take different routes based on you; sometimes I like calm music similar to the Sleep playlist on Spotify so that it relaxes my mind but on most occasions I try to engulf myself in some of my favorite songs so that I am focused more on the words than I am on my surroundings. High stress flight moments for me are usually the few minutes of the take off and areas of turbulence. Depending on the flight, the descent can also be difficult (on my stomach, on my head, etc.). But in cases where the descent is smooth, my anxiety typically will melt away knowing I am almost done with the flight.
- Puzzles — I mentioned puzzles in my post about what I bring on my flights and this is why! Entertainment like movies and reading is a way to get your mind into something else and away from your own bad thoughts, but I find puzzles are the most effective in boosting your concentration into what you’re doing. They take thought and problem-solving which the other options lack and this works your brain. Not only are you exercising that all-important muscle, but the problem-solving aspect involves your entire mind, pulling you away from your anxiety-ridden thoughts.
I’m still figuring out how to cope with anxiety, especially while traveling, so my tips are few and far between. But I think it’s important to put it out there! I can also be more open about this topic going forward, but I thought this would be an easy way to introduce it by attaching it to a specific niche. I would love to hear your thoughts and I will continue to share my experiences with anxiety if it helps others. Happy Travels 🙂