7 Tips for Keeping your Cool Whilst Flying
No matter how many times someone tells you “but it’s the safest way to travel” – if you don’t like flying, you don’t like flying. According to Anxiety UK, ‘aerophobia’ (the fear of flying) is believed to effect one in ten of the population, with many suffering so badly with anticipatory anxiety, intrusive thoughts, and bodily symptoms like hyperventilating and sweating, that they feel that they have no choice but to avoid air travel altogether.
But nervous flyers shouldn’t have to miss out if it can be avoided, so we’ve put together a list of five of our top tips and techniques for keeping calm whilst you’re in the air, in the hope that plane journeys will feel slightly more manageable.
The last thing you need if you’re a nervous flyer is more anxiety – so be sure to double and triple-check that you’ve got everything in your hand luggage that you might want for the journey. Think of all the things that make you feel comfortable and safe, and if any of them are transportable, shove them in your bag. It might be a photograph, a cuddly toy, or a particularly cosy jumper that you reckon you could snuggle down in comfortably – just bring it along so that even when you’re in the air, you’ve got a reminder of home to keep you feeling grounded.
Different things are calming and reassuring to different people – whilst some people crave knowledge and reassurance, others can’t truly settle until they’ve focused in on their breathing. Luckily, the wide range of flight-related apps on the market means that you’re bound to be able to find something that’s your jam.
KNOW THE STATS: If you find comfort in numbers and likelihoods, and can’t seem to shake the feeling of impending death when there are any bumps in the journey, then downloading Flying Calmly is essential. Perfect for the nervous flyer who needs a bit of certainty, this app allows users to punch in their flight date and number, and receive detailed predictions on how turbulent their journey is expected to be. If graphs, percentages and feeling prepared are right up your street, then Flying Calmly is the app for you.
HIGH-QUALITY HYPNOSIS: If you love getting into a deep state of hypnotic relaxation, then download Overcome The Fear of Flying by Glenn Harold, and use it daily in the two weeks leading up to your flight. Featuring two Hypnosis Audio Tracks, as well as a 12 Minute Sleep Booster, Glenn will help you let go of anxiety through the use of powerful desensitisation techniques and post-hypnotic suggestions.
DISTRACT AND LEARN: Re-frame your flight thinking with Flyover Country – an app that uses maps and geological data to let you know information about notable sites you’re flying over, and generally the world beneath you. Encouraging you to focus on the world around you, rather than your method of transportation, Flyover Country is grounding for those who are feeling just too far away from the ground, and acts as an engaging and welcome distraction.
ALTERNATE NOSTRIL BREATHING: Known in yoga practices as Nadi Shodhana Pranayama, Alternate Nostril Breathing helps balance the left and right hemispheres of the brain, which has a calming and balancing impact both physically and mentally – regulating heart rate and body temperature, whilst also reducing anxiety, stress and tension.
How do I do it?
- Sit comfortably in your seat, and rest your left palm on your left knee.
- Bring your right hand up to your nose and fold your index and middle fingers into your palm, so that you can use your thumb to close your right nostril, and your ring finger to close your left nostril.
- Exhale completely out of both nostrils, and then inhale. Then close one nostril and exhale, before inhaling smoothly and completely through the other nostril. Now change sides, completing one full breath with the opposite nostril.
- Continue alternating, until you have completed six rounds of breathing through each nostril.
DIAPHRAGMATIC BREATHING: Put simply – breathing deeply. This simple kind of breathing lowers stress levels, reduces blood pressure and heart rate, and regulates other important bodily processes, whilst also improving core stability. Reducing the harmful effects of the stress hormone cortisol, Diaphragmatic Breathing doesn’t take much practice, and is easily carried out in cramped aeroplane seats.
How do I do it?
- Sit comfortably, relax your shoulders, and place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach.
- Breathe in through your nose for two seconds, feeling your stomach expand, before pursing your lips and exhaling slowly through your mouth.
- Repeat several times, and you should feel calmer.
Keep focused on the idea that these thoughts and anxieties are just that – and not in any way fact. Re-label intrusive thoughts like “this is very scary” to helpful alternatives like “I am an anxious flyer, and that is why I’m feeling scared”. This mindful exercise should leave you feeling a bit more in control.
Mindful activities don’t have to just be formal exercises. Focus on being present and in the moment in any way you feel most comfortable – whether that’s mindful colouring books, knitting, or doing a puzzle. Just put as much of your sole focus into the activity as possible.
Repeat after me: Aromatherapy oils are my saviour.
Known for their calming abilities, they are a carry-on must-have. Here are some of our faves:
- Aesop Ginger Flight Therapy – Stimulates senses, calms the mind and nerves, and helps with travel nausea.
- de Mamiel Soothe – This blend of herbs, watermelon seed oil and passionflower oil alleviates anxiety and discomfort, and quietens the mind for sleep.
- Jacob Hooy CBD Oil 5% – Praised by users for its positive impact on stress and anxiety, pop a few drops of this oil under your tongue 2-3 times a day.
Anxious hands should stay busy. These simple products are great for the nervous twitchers and fiddlers amongst us.
- Fidget Cube – Stimulates the senses, and soothes stress and anxiety.
- Smiley Stress Ball – A classic but effective way to relieve tension.
- Rubik’s Cube – This 1974 throwback is sure to frustrate you so much that you’ll forget about your travelling woes.
Block it all out. Hold off on watching a few episodes of your favourite TV show, and then download them for in-flight viewing – get lost in something else, and forget where you are.
If plane sounds make you particularly nervous, then these are definitely worth considering:
- Spacemasks Self Heating Eye Masks – Infused with the essence of jasmine, and iron powder that warms up, this is pure, relaxing, sensory distraction.
- Sony MDR-ZX110NA Overhead Noise Cancelling Headphones – Get rid of those aeroplane noises, without clearing out your bank account.