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Anxiety about Flying

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DH and I are finally taking our dream vacation at the end of this month - an Alaskan land and cruise tour. It's for our 15th anniversary and we are leaving the kids at home with grandparents.

The problem - I have such anxiety about flying. We live on the East Coast, so we have several flights to get through. It's been several years since I've been on a plane. I really would prefer to not take anything for it - I've taken Xanax in the past and even a small dose knocks me out and leaves me feeling groggy.

So what else can I do? Essential oils? I'll try just about anything. DH and I both plan to download lots of shows on our devices. I will have a book or three to read.

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Sounds like a great time.  Would you feel better getting in the plane earlier so you have more time to get settled ....or would it be better for you to be one of the last ones on the plane so you have less time to sit and think?

Sorry I don't have a lot of great ideas on the anxiety as I love to fly.

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Books are good. I start reading at the airport so I am into the story once I get on the plane and want to keep reading.

I compartmentalize. A lot. I don’t allow myself to think about anything that might go wrong. I tell myself I am allowed to worry later, once the flight(s) are over. I have to keep myself distracted. If it gets bad it helps me to close my eyes, breathe deeply, and think of other people and pray for them. Anything that keeps my mind occupied and my thoughts off of me and how I am feeling.

I watch the flight attendants as they do their jobs to remind me that this is just a normal flight in their normal day of work.

I don’t drink caffeine until I have arrived at my final destination, and I don’t eat a ton. I bring my favorite snacks that I know are going to sit well. 

I try to pack light and stay organized so the experience at the airport is as easy as possible.

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You might want to check out reviews of some Cognitive Behavior apps or programs. I know some workplaces now make certain programs available for free. Statistically speaking, flying is very safe, much safer than being in a car. 

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l-theanine or GABA are calming, but won't knock you out.

can you practice deep breathing exercises now, so when you go you'll be more proficient and can do that.

lavender is supposed to be relaxing

so is magnesium

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Great suggestions upthread.  My only contribution is Good headphones and good music on your phone/device - really helps me kind of zone out.

 

Anne

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You're going to have a great time!!!  

I fly regularly, and I have found my anxiety about it has increased slightly over the years.  My dad is a pilot, and he likes to stress that the most dangerous moments in a plane are the first 3 minutes and last 3 minutes of a flight.  I'm a big statistics junkie, so I allow myself to be as worried as I like for three minutes once I feel the wheels lift off (I literally time it on my watch) then I tell myself, "Ok, all is fine." and then I force myself to stop worrying.  It is mind over matter here, you can do it!  Especially if distracted by a good sitcom!  I then allow myself to get nervous again for the last three minutes.  This is harder to time, and I don't want to "use up" my worry too early on, since I only allow myself three minutes, so occasionally, I totally miss my worry window and the landing it easy!  Also, my kids like to puke in the last 10 minutes of flight time, so that sometimes keeps me busy.  😂

 

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I wonder if you should ask to be allowed to pre-board each of the aircraft you will be flying on?  Possibly not being in the huge line with everyone trying to get their stuff into the overhead bin would be more relaxing?

I would NOT suggest that you take any medicine that you do not take on a daily basis.  Medicine and alcohol can affect one, very adversely, in an aircraft.

Your will be incredibly safe during  your flights.  Far safer than when you are on your way to/from the airports or soaking in the bathtub.

Sounds like a wonderful vacation and I hope that you and your DH will enjoy it immensely.

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Thank you, everyone! Great suggestions. Intellectually, I KNOW how safe flying is. I KNOW that I am statistically exponentially more likely to get into a car accident. But of course, Anxiety is irrational.

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9 hours ago, Anne said:

Great suggestions upthread.  My only contribution is Good headphones and good music on your phone/device - really helps me kind of zone out.

 

Anne

or whatever you find helpful as white noise.  pay attention to what makes you relax.

 

I was surprised for me - it's thunderstorms.  who'd'a thunk?

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I think the suggestions to get distracted are the best.  Many airlines now have monitors on the back of seats.  You can choose music, movie, tv shows, games, seeing where the plane is, etc.  I only have anxiety issues with turbulence but they have lessened over the years, mainly due to me being able to distract myself  

Have a great trip!

 

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You'll have a wonderful time in Alaska.  It is a vast, beautiful and baffling place. I'm glad you're going even though the getting-there is a little daunting.

My husband flies a lot but has never really gotten over flying anxiety. He reports that good quality noise-cancelling headphones have made more difference than anything else he's ever tried (and he's tried a lot of things).  He loads his phone with both music and a zips-along-plot-driven audiobook, he straps himself in and does not pay one lick of attention to anything at all going on throughout the flight. 

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I strongly agree with the compartmentalizing suggestion. I wouldn't do anything to prepare, actually - not unless you think you're likely to have a full blown panic attack. I have anxiety about flying and I seriously lock up all my thoughts about it until I'm literally sitting on the plane. I simply don't let myself think about it.

Then, during takeoff and landing, I put on my headphones, I turn up the noise, and I ignore everything. This is not happening. Not happening. Not happening.

Not a good method for some anxiety things, but honestly, for flying, I feel like it's just a hurdle to jump over.

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Read up on the 4 7 8 breathing technique. It is a way to”hack” the vagus nerve so that even during times when you might feel fearful or anxious  —such as during flying  — you’ll feel safe instead. The way we breathe sends messages along certain aspects of the vagus nerve telling our nervous system whether we’re safe or not. I use this technique often while flying and it has helped me immensely.

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I don’t enjoy flying either🙁 I always have Xanax with me but only take it if I know I’m not renting a car on the other end and the flight is long, 8 hours or more. I find it difficult to concentrate, so I usually don’t read. I will watch shows or movies, if that is an option. My mantra that I repeat is “the pilots want to get there safely too.” Have a great time on your vacation🌺

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