Ever since my first flight, as long as I can remember, I have always been a nervous passenger. I think nervous is an understatement. Suffering from a mild anxiety disorder means that I can encounter random anxiety and panic attacks. These have happened several times whilst flying. Whether it may be at the airport, whilst boarding the flight, during take off or even a few days in advance. For me, I hate not being in control (not that I would know how to fly a plane anyway), it’s also being so high up, I just think, HOW is this even working?! My fear of something bad happens turns into me convincing myself that I am in danger – and that flying isn’t safe. When of course it is!
A few days before I flew to India, I remember being up until 5am hyperventilating in sheer panic at the thought of flying in 2 days time. After a phone call with my Mum and some hugs from my housemates at the time, I was soon absolutely fine. That’s the worst thing about panic attacks, I’ve never experienced such a contrasting change of emotion so quickly until this happens.
Another case was when I flew to New York. Walking through the tunnel, a few feet from stepping on the plane I just broke down. I couldn’t bring myself to step onto the plane. However, after calming myself down for a couple of minutes I was able to step on and head to my seat. Still panicking of course but I knew I had to do it.
So, how do I get over it? What helps me calm down?
I’ll admit that I will still have the butterflies in my belly throughout a flight but I have a routine which I go through. I say I like the window seat so that ‘I can see whats going on’. When in all honesty, what am I even looking for? I wouldn’t have a clue.
Here are a few pointers that I go over in my head whilst flying that help me. I am always constantly revising these as it helps me feel better!
1. Air travel is the SAFEST way of travelling
It took me a while to admit this – but it’s fact! You have more of a chance of something going wrong on your journey to the airport. As mentioned above, my fear of flying leads to myself thinking that I am in danger. But I know it’s such a ridiculous thought to have. I remind myself that I am in safe hands and if there were any doubts, we wouldn’t have taken off.
2. Understanding air travel
I have educated myself a few times on the science of how aeroplanes work as a reassurance that it is normal. Reading these facts really helps calm me down as it makes me realise that I have nothing to worry about! I recommend reading up on how everything works as it is the perfect reassurance and nerve calmer!
3. Eat well!
I always have to make sure I have eaten before a flight! It helps with my energy, so that I don’t feel nervous or anxious.
Okay so turbulence used to have me in tears. But after educating myself on this, I realised how completely normal it is and how it can actually be exciting. Planes are built to withstand these conditions, is what I tell myself every time. The more flights I go on, granted I still get nervous – but if I get bored, I sometimes hope for turbulence just to make it a bit more fun!
5. 100,000 planes a day
There are over 100,000 planes that fly every day. With incredibly trained staff in control of so many different parts of the process both on ground, in the air and in air traffic control, I tell myself how I am in such safe hands and how much has been taken into consideration prior to take off.
These pointers are just a few things I go over in my head and remind myself of before I fly and it really does help. It reminds me that I really have nothing to be so worried about! If you experience nerves whilst flying, I would recommend trying a few of these to help you become a more confident flyer. I’m getting there, slowly.
Landing into Phuket International Airport on board Thai Lion Air from Bangkok. July 2016