Flying around the world comes with the territory of being a travel agent, but what do you do when the thing you love is tainted by fear? Not wanting this to stop me from seeing it all, I have come up with 3 ways I use to control this anxiety when I travel.
Until a couple of years ago, I had never been on a flight longer than two hours, let alone out of the country! So naturally I was nervous about stepping onto a big jumbo jet that was going to take me half way around the world, across massive oceans and away from my comfort zone of peppermint tea and David Attenborough documentaries.
Two things triggered my fear of flying: being terrified of heights and not being in control. I was fine when I was younger but as I grew older I became more and more nervous about jumping on that jet plane. I know that my fear of flying will never be completely gone so I decided to formulate a plan of attack to get in control of my fear of flying:
Facts – I am described at work as a ‘why’ person. I like to know the why’s, what’s and how’s for everything. So if you are sitting next to me on the plane, I feel sorry for you in more ways than one. I will ask you things like ‘how do planes fly when they are so heavy?’, ‘what’s that noise?’ (that one is repeated… A LOT) and my favourite so far ‘why are we nose diving???’ (ok admittedly that last one was more recently on a flight back from Botswana and I was terrified we were crashing and I went into panic mode..). When I was younger, my dad would sit with me and tell me what each of the noises were, how the wings worked and what the pilot does (thankfully he explained a little more than nothing). Now when I fly, I go through the motions.
Visualisation – A few years back I saw a naturopath who recommended meditation to help get in control of my mind, because, as you may have guessed when my imagine runs wild… it runs wild. So, I decided to tap into this energy when flying. Im not talking about sitting there, knees crossed and reciting ‘aum’ over and over until I land in my destination, but using the breathing techniques to slow my heart rate and relax my mind. This helps me to stay in control when I feel my anxiety take over and generally helps me sleep!
Drink – If the first two options fail… bring on the Alcohol! Secretly this one is my favourite, wonder why! No word of a lie, it works. I was on a flight out of Johannesburg, flying alone and at night. They had just served me my vegetarian dinner with my mini bottle of Sauvignon Blanc when the attendants were told to sit due to turbulence. This was possibly the worst turbulence I had experienced. I had tried the first two techniques but nothing seemed to work, so without further hesitation I hastily poured that bottle of wine into the glass and threw it back like it was water on a summers day. Now, normally it takes more than that to hit the sides, but since I hadn’t eaten dinner and taking into account the altitude difference and blah blah blah this liquor of goodness did the trick, within about 5 minutes I could feel my eyelids close over and I was happily snuggling my neck pillow as the turbulence aggressively rocked me to sleep.
These little things have helped me to reduce the stress and anxiety when it comes to my fear of flying, meaning that I can happily fly around the world.
‘Take only memories, leave only footsteps’