Tip #120: How to get on that plane.
The Why: When most people think of going on holiday, they don’t think of stress. They think of relaxation, a time to unwind, a time to leave all your worries at home.
For the anxious individual, this is not quite the case.
There may be lions, tigers and bears oh my! (Though not usually in the same geographical location admittedly.)
There can be many fears or worries that arise at the thought of leaving home. You’re away from your support system, away from all the usual distractions, away from familiar surroundings, the possibility of having a panic attack in a foreign place in front of people who don’t know how to help you, sometimes you even have to fly in a massive mental box floating in the air for hours on end.
All of these things can arouse terrifying visions of your holiday going wrong very quickly.
But, travelling can also help with anxiety.
Learning to be comfortable away from your comfort zone, learning to be more independent from the structures that keep you sane(ish) and learning that you can do the scary thing are all vital in overcoming anxiety.
So, here are some of my top tips on how to deal with these worries whilst away.
Number One – Play Candy Crush On The Plane
One of the scariest parts of travelling can be, if you’re going abroad or long-distance domestically, flying.
I know from personal experience how debilitating the fear of flying can be; once experiencing a panic attack for an entire two-hour flight. Not fun. Especially not fun for the kind woman sitting beside me.
However, this is a fear, like all other fears, that can be beaten!
It’s important to remember that the odds of dying in a plane crash are an incredibly small 1 in 11 million. It’s one of the safest modes of travel out there.
But, if that isn’t enough to persuade your Amygdala that you’re going to be fine, the best way to deal with the fear of flying is:
Distraction, distraction, distraction.
Find an activity that consumes your entire concentration, and cling to it unwaveringly for the duration of the flight.
This will stop your mind from wandering into toxic anxious thoughts, and calm you down.
My best recommendation has to be Candy Crush. Focusing on getting points and crushing the jelly not only releases endorphins when you win, but is an activity that requires your full brain power. It will keep you going for hours on end.
Number Two – Get To Know Your Noises
In truth, planes and trains make a whole lot of noises.
However, these noises can often be quite disconcerting. Suddenly hearing loud gears click or a clang can cause immediate alarm.
This is why before boarding, look up all the different noises a train or plane makes and why. This way you’ll be able to recognise the sounds that are perfectly normal, no matter how abrasive they may seem.
Number Three – Keep Three Tips In Your Pocket
Once you’re actually on holiday, it can be rather daunting to be away from so many of your usual anti-anxiety support systems. So, take with you three tips, tricks or things that you know really work for you, and keep them in your pocket (literally or figuratively, depending on the size of the thing, and on the size of the pocket).
Sometimes having a small relic from home can be a reassuring thing. Whether that’s a photo, an item or a memory you hold on to. It’s a positive, powerful experience to have something to ground you home, no matter how far away you are.
Number Four – Visualise
I’ve spoken a lot about visualisation in the past, but this is because I have found it to be one of the greatest defences against anxiety.
Visualisation is where you vividly imagine and picture a scenario in a positive light. So, if you are nervous about flying, or meeting new people, or walking around a city, visualise yourself doing it without having a panic attack. Think of all the details and all the tiny moments you may encounter.
This will mean that you’ve already seen yourself do the scary thing, and be okay. This is an image you can hold on to if the doom cycle begins, and you start to think of all the things that can go wrong.
Visualisation takes away the fear of doing something unknown for the first time, as you picture it so clearly you feel like you’ve already done it.
Number Five – Make A Detailed Itinerary
A large part of travel anxiety can come from the unknown.
If you’re in a foreign land where you have never stepped foot before, where you don’t speak the language, and don’t know anyone, this can be a huge step into unchartered waters.
Anxiety functions in the space of unknowns because your mind can fill in the gaps with horrible images and thoughts of danger.
A great way to combat this is to fill your holiday time with known unknowns.
This may sound strange, but bear with me here.
If you come up with a detailed plan of what you are going to do and where you are going to go, then you can look up and research these places, making them more familiar to you, even if you’ve never been there before.
This is how they become known unknowns.
Having a plan can combat travel anxiety because you don’t feel so lost; you have purpose, direction, you known where you’re going and what you’re doing.
This also means that you can share you plan with someone back at home, so you don’t have to feel worried about no one knowing where you are.
The world is a big and beautiful place, full of magical things. Don’t be afraid to go and see it.
Also – I myself am going to need these tips as I am going on holiday today, so if I don’t post for a week or so, don’t think I have abandoned you.