Despite the countless flights I took before developing travel anxiety, it still hits me hard the day before and the day of my flight. I’ve learned a lot about what triggers my anxiety and how to combat it. Here are my tips for travel anxiety.
*Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, while I do have a certification in yoga (relates to the breathing techniques). These work for me but may not help you so experiment with what helps you or consult a doctor.
Before the anxiety hits.
- Know what causes it. For me, I get the most anxiety before I get on the plane. From the day before, through security, and waiting at the gate. My mind is racing, thinking about all the things that could go wrong that would cause me to miss my flight. It will sometimes kick in when I am landing and thinking about going through customs and finding a taxi. Knowing what triggers your anxiety will help you figure out ways to fight it.
- Be prepared. Making sure I have all of my travel documents with me and printed out, including the hotels or hostels I am staying at gives me a little peace. When I don’t have to worry about my phone needing to be charged to pull up a confirmation email, I know I can just hop in the cab or airport shuttle and hand the driver a piece of paper with the address. This is especially handy in places where you don’t know the language and can’t pronounce the street names. I will also have all my bags packed two days before or at least a detailed list of what I need to pack. This includes what I will pack in my carry on to help me calm down.
- Wear comfy clothes. When you are uncomfortable, it can amplify the attack. I have a favorite pair of jeans that don’t compress my stomach or legs like my yoga pants do or I will wear a loose fitting maxi dress. I wear layers and bring socks if I am wearing sandals on the plane. I tend to get cold so all that will keep me warm. And if I do get to warm, by wearing layers I can strip a layer or two off to cool down. Figure out what makes YOU the most comfortable when you are sitting for a long time.
During an attack
- Breathing techniques. Pranayama, the yogic breathing practices, have been shown to reduce the effects of anxiety. I will do Ujjayi or Nadi Shodhana. Ujjayi is commonly used during a physical yoga practice but I find that because it is warming and brings my concentration to the breath, it calms me down. Nadi Shodana also brings a lot of focus on the breath, but since it involves more from your hands, I only really do this when I am home and experiencing the pre-airport jitters. Another simple technique is just to breathe in through your nose and out your mouth. Count in seconds you inhale and exhales and try to lengthen them a little bit every few times. This will bring more attention to your breath than just doing the action. I also tend to do these with my eye closed.
- Lavender Essential Oil. Without fail I always bring this on the plane with me. I will put some on my chest and neck and in my scarf if I am wearing one. Then I will hold my hands up to my nose and take a few deep breaths. This trick has been my go to for a while so even the slightest whiff of lavender changes my breathing.
- CBD. I hear from a lot of people that taking CBD oil or pills before or during a flight or getting to the airport helps a lot. I bought some intending to take it to Mexico with me but it didn’t arrive in time. It has made me relaxed on a day to day basis and I don’t notice my neck pain anymore. I tested it while flying to San Diego, which is a pretty quick flight from Oakland, and I was a little more calm. I plan on testing it more on some long haul solo flights soon and will add an update or make a whole separate post.
I have never wanted my fears and anxieties to get in the way of living an amazing life. Finding ways to calm these irrational but intense fears allows me to explore and do things others find too scary.
Do you also have anxiety? What are some ways you fight it?