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Fear of Flying? Five Self-Care Tips for Anxiety Relief

I started traveling internationally back in 2014 and fell in love with visiting small towns in new countries. The people, the food, the farms, and the ways of living that were so different from my own enchanted me.


I loved waking up early, finding a spot to settle into as the sun rose, and writing pages of gratitude in my journal before hopping in the shower and drinking a cup of tea to start my daily adventures. Trying new cuisines and asking every question I could think of—from the type of spices used to how long a dish simmers—became a passion. Traveling became a crucial part of my existence.


However, flying was a different story. I hated flying. I hated not being in control, the turbulence, and following my journey on the digital map over vast lands and endless oceans, thinking, "OMG if this plane were to go down right now..." The more I flew, the worse my anxiety got.


One of my good friends recommended I talk to my doctor, and I was prescribed a very low dose of Xanax. Being the strict rule follower that I am, I took it exactly as instructed. And it worked. Boarding the flight, I felt calm yet still very much myself. I feared taking drugs would alter my personality, but this did not. I felt like a relaxed, normal version of myself. However, I knew that if Xanax could help me fly without fear, there had to be other self-care strategies to help relieve my anxiety.


 

5 Self-Care Tips to Relieve Flight Anxiety


Today, I no longer take Xanax when flying. I have found five self-care tips that have been extremely helpful for me. Most importantly, they have helped me shift my mindset, find ways to physically relax and calm my body, and enjoy my time on board flights. If I'm being completely honest, now that I have found ways to relieve my anxiety, I genuinely love flying. It's one of my favorite parts of the journey. I hope some of the self-care tips below help you overcome your fear of flying and learn how to safely release your anxiety.


  1. Write and Recite Affirmations One of the best ways to relieve anxiety is to write and recite affirmations. You might wonder, can it really be that simple? The answer is absolutely yes! The purpose of affirmations is to shift our way of thinking. When we shift our mindset, our bodies naturally follow. When our minds are filled with trusting, calm thoughts of relaxation and surrender, our bodies mimic those thoughts. Try incorporating affirmations into your daily routine to see the positive impact they can have. If you're in need of some affirmations to get you started, check out my Instagram Post here.


  1. Binaural Beats: Meditation Playlist Listening to binaural beats has been crucial during flights for me. Research suggests that listening to binaural beats can reduce anxiety by promoting brainwave synchronization, which enhances relaxation and stress reduction. The sounds help drown out the loud engine rumbling, the wheels on the pavement, and the wings cutting through air pockets. It's like creating a bubble, allowing you to be alone with just your thoughts. I recommend the "Meditation Playlist" on Spotify to help create a peaceful, calm environment during your journey.

  2. Bring Your Favorite Snacks Having great snacks on your flight can help relieve anxiety. Consuming certain foods can help calm anxiety by increasing the levels of serotonin and dopamine in the brain, which are neurotransmitters associated with mood regulation and relaxation. On an average day, eating something you enjoy helps you relax and smile. The same applies on board. I prefer freshly sliced apples, roasted almonds, and those delicious Biscoff cookies on Delta flights. Packing your favorite snacks can provide comfort and a little piece of home.

  3. Enjoy a Glass of Wine or Champagne You might not expect to see alcohol on this list, but a glass of wine or champagne can help take the edge off. As someone who drinks caffeine in the morning, I know it can sometimes amp up my anxiety. I avoid caffeine before flying and instead opt for a beverage that calms the nervous system. Alcohol, in moderation, can act as a depressant and help you relax. It's important to remember, while moderate alcohol consumption may initially provide feelings of relaxation and temporary anxiety relief due to its effects on the central nervous system, excessive or long-term alcohol use can ultimately exacerbate anxiety symptoms and contribute to long-term mental health issues.

  4. Bring a Comfort Object Comfort objects are not just for children; they offer benefits for adults as well. My dog DJ was my loving comfort object for several years. He was a trained psychiatric service dog who applied pressure and warmth stimulation anytime I started to feel anxious. Now that he has crossed that beautiful rainbow bridge, I use my favorite blanket and sweater, which provide a similar effect. The soft texture of the fuzzy sweater against my skin and the warmth it provides help me feel comfortable, cozy, and relaxed. Neurological systems crave different things when it comes to calming our bodies and relieving anxiety, so try out different comfort objects. It could be a fuzzy pair of socks, your favorite hoodie, a blanket, or even a small pillow. I've even flown with a small teddy bear—there's no shame in using what works for you!



 

Conclusion

In conclusion, fear of flying is a common anxiety that many people experience, but it doesn't have to prevent you from exploring the world. By incorporating self-care tips like writing affirmations, listening to binaural beats, bringing comforting snacks, enjoying a glass of wine or champagne in moderation, and having a comforting object, you can significantly reduce anxiety and make your flying experience more enjoyable. Remember, everyone's anxiety is different, so it's essential to find what works best for you. With these self-care strategies, you can take control of your fear of flying and embark on your journeys with confidence and tranquility.

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