Flying can be a stressful experience for some people. Even experienced travellers can feel anxious when they are about to fly. Anxiety can be caused by a variety of factors, such as fear of the unknown, fear of heights, fear of flying, and even fear of a plane crash. Or simply from watching too much, reading incident news, or watching air crash investigation programmes.
Flying anxiety can manifest itself in a variety of ways, such as difficulty sleeping before the flight, excessive worrying, and feeling overwhelmed by the whole experience. This can lead to physical symptoms such as sweating, nausea, and a racing heart.
You’re not alone, flying anxiety is common
When the pandemic outbreak was happening, travelling seems to be paused. Non-essential operations in aviation were also being held on pause. Since we are open to travel again, some adjustments are needed as passengers.
Flying anxiety is not the case for me, because flying is a hobby and become my me-time. On the other hand, flying is also a profession. Aside from being a pilot, I have spent almost 8 years serving as the Aviation Quality & Safety. What is not being discussed so much in the media is that aviation has regulations for pilot requirements and training. We also conduct Safety Management Systems in our operations, including surveillance and audits.
It is normal to be anxious about a subject or industry that we don’t understand. It never meant that the flying anxiety you’re experiencing is not real. Sometimes we heard about people avoiding a type of airline or a type of aeroplane. The correlation is different from one person to another.
Monitoring your anxiety can help you
Identification is important in the process here. First, we need to list everything that is usually happening with your body, mind, and emotion, and even disturb your activities regarding your flight. Of course, it could be different from one flight to another. This could include something that you’re aware of or subconsciously happening. It’s okay if you forget some, you can add the list anytime. This step will help you to be aware of the change or reaction the next time you’re having a flight schedule.
Then we can identify the time or phase your reaction is happening. Is it usually happening the night before the flight, at the airport, during take-off, or even before landing? Journaling could be helpful for this step.
When you get anxious at night before the flight, you can prepare yourself. If your destination is at a different timezone, you can simply set your watch to match the destination for a couple of days before your journey. It might also help to brew some lavender tea, something for calming your nerve and having deep sleep.
On your flying day, try to take some benefit from spearmint tea. In some research studies, spearmint helps to reduce anxiety. Also, spearmint helps your digestion and relaxes stomach muscles – which are a huge benefit for a pressurised environment such as the aeroplane cabin. Packing a stress ball or squishy might be helpful by squeezing it during the flight. No worries ladies, a beauty blender will do.
Flying can be a stressful experience, even experienced travellers can feel anxious when they are about to fly.
Managing anxiety during your flight
During the flight, it also is important to make a flight log by journaling. Write down every reaction happening in your body, mind, and emotions during your journey in your journal. Not only your body’s reaction but also what comes across your mind when the reaction happens.
Next, try to find the correlation between the time you’re having any reaction to any moment in your memory that had a similar reaction. Write down both moments in your journal, you can also draw the moments. Besides, it’s your notebook, your journal, you can add any writing or drawing as many as you want and need.
Reaching your destination, it’s time to brew some chamomile tea. In some folklore, chamomile is believed to be a medicine plant or herb. Chamomile has benefits for purification & energizing. While having your tea, grab your flight log and read through the journal. Lastly, find out in between those correlated moments you write down, what kind of emotion rushes in. Identifying those correlated moments will be helpful in the long term, especially the emotions surrounding them.
This type of journaling will not only help you understand the cause of your anxiety but also prepare you for the following flight, and the flight after. By making this journal or flight log, you are setting a starting point for improvement. A starting point that you can look back anytime you need in the future.
Through coaching sessions, I will help you to understand the causes of your flying anxiety and provide you with strategies to manage it. We will discuss relaxation techniques, cognitive behavioural therapy, and other strategies to help you manage your anxiety and have a more enjoyable flying experience.