DEALING WITH A FEAR OF FLYING

If you’re like me, you understand the pain that comes along with flying. The day is filled with nerves and anxiety. Even before you board the plane, your stomach is in knots and you feel like shit. This has been my struggle since I was about 12 years old. However, back then I always had someone with me to be my moral support (I’m a drama queen I know). As I’ve grown older and more independent, my travels have been mainly solo. On my own. No one to distract me with conversation. No one to hold my clammy ass, shaky ass, hand. I had to put on my best independent, no worry in the world, face. And that has been damn hard to do. But for the first time, in… well ever, I’m sitting on a plane, on top of the Atlantic Ocean, and I don’t feel any anxiety at all! Sure I was a little anxious before boarding and my heart raced a little while we were taking off, but I’m currently sitting on a plane, IN THE AIR, and I feel fine! Better than that, I feel good (I think the fact that I have extra leg room and a row to myself helps).

Overcoming any form of anxiety is on it’s own is a really difficult thing to do, especially if anxiety has been a part of your life for many years. The thought of not having anxiety attacks or anxious thoughts may seem utterly impossible. Dealing with anxiety requires you to take control over your thoughts in the moment. In that moment when the only thoughts swimming in your mind are about the worst possible situations and the most horrible things that can occur. Right then and there you have to attempt to override those automatic thoughts with ones that are positive and calm; ones that initially feel completely unnatural to even think. By doing this, every time an anxious thought comes to mind, positive thinking becomes routine and eventually automatic (the same way that anxious thoughts appear automatically and in a routine manner).

Now I have to say that this is one of those things that is easier said than done. I definitely have not mastered this or fully overcome my anxiety. It’s really difficult to adjust your ways of thinking. Half of the time you forget to even try overcoming the anxiety because you’ve become so used to the anxious thoughts overflowing in your head. But realising that you’re having irrational and anxious thoughts in the first place is a big step. From there you can try to replace your worrying and negative thinking with some form of neutral thoughts. Sometimes thinking things like “I’m safe and okay”, or “Only good things are coming my way”, works.  “You dumb bitch you’re actually crazy that’s never going to happen”, works well for me too. Other times, shifting your thoughts to something that brings you happiness distracts your mind more and works better. As long as your consistently making an effort to replace your anxiety-filled thoughts with neutral or positive thinking, you’re going to be better off.

Another little piece of advice that I’ll give you if you deal with a bad fear of flying or anxiety in general, is to try out meditation. I know, I know, it sounds weird. A lot of people think it’s bullshit and roll their eyes at the thought of it. I was definitely hesitant at first as well, but meditation is something that my mom swears by and has for decades, and since she’s so educated on psychology and mental health, I figured there’s no harm in trying it out. So a few months ago I decided to take 10 minutes out of each day to do a little meditation. It’s so easy because you don’t need any equipment or to be anywhere specific. All you have to do is close your eyes, and focus on your breathing and nothing else. Once again, I’m no expert at this. But I’ve found meditating while feeling anxious to be helpful. So if you’re interested in finding a way to cope with anxiety without popping pills and a simple method, I’ll link below the tutorial of the meditation exercise I follow. And if you’re a lazy piece of shit like me, the tutorial is super easy and quick to do on your own.
Note: I’m not claiming to be a psychologist or trying to give you some kind of professional advice. This is simply what has helped me deal with anxiety with flying (and anxiety in general). I wrote it in hopes that it could help someone out there experiencing similar anxiety.

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