Wednesday, 23 May 2018

How I Fight My Travel Anxiety

I used to LOVE travelling. Catching a flight myself wouldn't have been an issue, in fact I enjoyed flying. I enjoyed travelling. Now, is a very different story. My travel anxiety kicked in after I was diagnosed with arthritis in late 2013, I couldn't even bare a 40 minute car journey to the hospital without shaking with nerves, usually vomiting, sobbing and wanting to bail on going 100% of the time. Over the years I've learned ways to combat my travel anxiety, more specifically and recently the fears I have around flying.

Let me start by saying that I'm not 'cured', I've just found a few methods that help to ease my anxiety symptoms when travelling. I think it's all about finding what's right for you and really sticking to it. 

Last week I had the incredible opportunity to fly to Rome to shoot a campaign with one of my favourite brands - SimplyBe. When I first got the email I was really, really excited but extremely nervous. I hadn't flown since 2012, and hadn't even begun to unpack all of my fears in terms of flying with anxiety and a chronic illness. My fear of flying is based around being unwell 30,000 feet in the air and not being able to get the help I need. It's being trapped in a tiny box in the sky and not being able to get out. It's the thought of being surrounded by people with colds, coughs, the flu when my immune system is so low I catch everything and anything. I definitely have fears around being fat whilst flying too but that's a whole blogpost in itself! 

I spoke to some friends and asked on twitter if anyone had any tips for an anxious flyer so I've paired them alongside some of my own to hopefully help any of you with the same thoughts and feelings. They definitely helped me tackle some of my thoughts around flying, and thankfully I was able to go on the trip!

My pal Lottie sent me an excellent book which I tried to read as much of as I could before going. I read it when I was in the bath, and did it in stages because it could get a wee bit overwhelming. It explains how safe you are, what the noises on aircrafts actually mean and helps to reassure anyone that's main worry is safety. There are LOADS of plane fear type books, but I've linked the one I have here. It might also help to speak to someone with similar feelings that has flown regularly. Lottie really helped to reassure me that I would be ok, that every time you fly you're always within 24 hours of that planes last full safety check. Having a pal give you that reassurance is invaluable. 

I ALWAYS pick my seat. It usually comes at an additional cost but I'd happily pay whatever it takes to feel that little bit more prepared. I like to know exactly what to expect. Once I know where I'm sitting I know exactly how I'll get to my seat and how close I'll be to the cabin crew, plus the nearest exit. I know this might sound drastic, but to an anxious mind its the reassurance I need to be able to get me through that flight. If I was to get unwell - unlikely but it's good to have a back-up plan - I know that the nearest help wouldn't be far, so I always choose either the front or back of the plane. 

It really helps me if I'm the first person in the queue to get on the plane. Usually you'll have to pay more for priority boarding, but for me it's something I'd pay for time and time again. I even feel a little better the earlier I'm through security and waiting at the gate to board. I know that if I'm one of the first on the plane I'll have enough time and space to sort myself and take in my surroundings. I've always been a planner so I like to be as prepared and early as possible, you might feel better boarding last minute so you're on the plane for as little time as possible, but I'd prefer to be first on so I can try to relax and get comfortable in my own time. 

A lovely lady on twitter recommended I put everything I'd need for my flight into a wee pouch inside my handbag, that way it would be easily accessible and I wouldn't have to stress rooting around my handbag for the things I needed. This worked SO WELL for me. I put in my medication, my medication alert card, earphones, some mints, my passport and phone, and it made my journey much more relaxed knowing that I had everything I needed in there. Someone else recommended taking an essential oil with me which was a great tip! I took lavender which was super soothing. I also downloaded enough music + netflix to keep me going for the entire flight - being fully prepared is definitely essential for me to feel as comfortable as possibly whilst flying. 

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*Items in this post were kindly sent to me. All opinions are my own.
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