I used to love flying. I first flew at the age of 20 on a girlie holiday to Tenerife and I enjoyed the taking off and being above everyone flying high in the air.
That all changed in 2010 when I suffered a panic attack on a flight back home which I touched on in my blog about anxiety here. It was possibly the shortest flight I have taken (Dublin to Bristol approximately 40 minutes) yet I was convinced it was going to crash and that was that. Ridiculous and unexplainable fear plus the usual symptoms of a panic attack (palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness followed by sweaty palms and unable to swallow). Being on my own probably heightened this episode ten fold but I thought I would never fly again.
I am happy to report that I have flown twice in the space of a couple of months this year. I was anxious and stressed and even though the first experience went well, so much so I watched intently take off and landing, the second time round I still felt nervous and had a very bumpy turbulent flight on returning home which slightly panicked me. Luckily I was with friends both times who kept me occupied and distracted me without making a fuss so I was fine overall. I am not yet at the point of loving it again but its certainly an improvement and has closed the door on that part of my anxiety. Its come full circle if you like.
I hope that one day I will be able to book a flight and not worry about anything and even fly alone again, but until that day I do have some helpful tips that might help if you are a nervous flier.
1. If you really feel that you might have a panic attack tell a cabin crew member. They deal with anxious fliers all the time its nothing they have not heard or seen before.
2. Take stuff with you to distract yourself. Distraction is a key element in stopping panic attacks. A book, the in flight magazine, ipad, ipod, knitting! Anything that stops you thinking too much and takes your mind off of whats happening around you.
3. Drink plenty of fluids but avoid caffeine or alcohol. Getting hot and flustered is one of the first signs that I am getting anxious, so I try and keep myself hydrated and never leave home without a bottle of water.
4. Bachs Rescue Remedy which I used to carry around with me all the time is meant to calm you down. I used it just before take off but found I did not need it anymore than that but you can use it repeatedly. Its a helpful substance and you can also get chewing gum from the same range.
5. Something I listened to before I went on my first flight in February was a hypnotherapy video on youtube. It is a bit cheesy and the guys accent made me laugh but actually it was very therapeutic and he basically makes you visualise the various stages of flying from leaving home with your bags to landing at your destination. It really helped me and is worth a listen.
Do you have any other tips for stress free flying?
If you suffer from panic attacks and need advice or help there is a vast array of information online or go and see your GP. I am not an expert but happy to help if you have any questions.
Thanks for reading, blog soon.
Love and sprinkles.