My Best Tips for Calming Flight Anxiety

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Let's talk about one of my least favorite topics: flight anxiety.

how it all began

In the past few years, I've developed extremely bad flight anxiety, pretty much out of nowhere. It all started a few summers ago when I was traveling for work cross-country a few times in a span of just a few weeks. On a flight from SFO to Chicago, the plane I was on went through such terrible turbulence the man in front of me's head slammed against the top of the plane, and people were crying and praying. Ever since then, every single bump or blip in the air drives me over the edge and I sit for the remainder of the flight in fear, clutching on to the armrests for dear life.

As someone who travels often and genuinely loves it, this is clearly very inconvenient. I'm not going to stop traveling altogether, so here's how I cope:

one // prep for the flight

I never get on a plane now without prepping first. For me, this means downloading music and podcasts on my phone so I can listen to them in airplane mode, and packing in-flight essentials like noise cancelling headphones, a good book, a "de-stress serum", and sleeping meds for longer flights.

two // find the distractions that work for you

For me, dealing with flight anxiety is all about distracting myself with something that's not so scary, like a good podcast on a topic that I'm really interested in, a new album I've been dying to listen to, a book that I've wanted to read for months, or a show on my iPad. Think of it kind of like dealing with a toddler on a plane—you have to be prepped with lots (and lots!) of distractions.

three // talk to yourself to calm yourself down

The thing that scares me more than anything is little bumps along the flight, especially when the fasten seatbelt goes back on midway through a flight. But in these moments, I repeat a few things to myself over and over:

  • ONE | "PILOTS ARE NEVER SCARED—YOU SHOULDN'T BE, EITHER!"

  • TWO | "THE FEAR IS IN YOUR HEAD—THERE'S NO ACTUAL REASON TO BE SCARED."

  • THREE | "NO ONE ELSE IS SCARED, YOU DON'T NEED TO BE EITHER."

It sounds crazy to talk yourself off the ledge, but repeating these things in my head really helps!

Do you deal with flight anxiety? How do you cope? Let me know in the comments section!