For Anxious Flyers, 9 Tips for Inflight ‘Self Care’

by guest blogger Psicoline 

You may be reading this post because you have trouble thinking of ways to take care of yourself when you get on a plane, especially
when flying triggers anxiety or aerophobia; sometimes it happens, and you might feel a little lost. Below are some inflight self-care ideas that could be useful and help you have a more pleasant trip.

What Is Self Care & Why Is it Important?

Self care means thinking about what can help you most as well as listening to your own needs. There are many people who experience complicated emotions or feelings when they get on a plane or when they plan a trip. Being afraid to fly makes you concentrate on fear, and therefore to some extent you neglect yourself. 

In other posts we’ve discussed the need to listen and pay attention to yourself throughout the process of air travel. From the moment you jump into planning it, there are many things you need to manage.  

How Can I Practice Self Care During a Flight?

Listen to Yourself  

Your body is wiser than you might give it credit for. Giving yourself space and permission to listen to it helps you to recognise your needs, and there’s no better way to take care of yourself than by responding to them. Answer this question: what do you need from yourself or your companions when you fly? If you’re exhibiting physical symptoms because of a complicated emotion, ask yourself how you can work on it or how you need help. 

Work Your Internal Dialogue 

If you suffer from aerophobia, it is possible that your internal dialogue (how you talk to yourself) will be a little altered on the day of the flight and maybe even in the days before; perhaps a little voice inside will try to convince you that something bad is going to happen or that flying isn’t such a good idea. You should listen to, think about, and question that inner voice. Some examples might be: “What’s it really saying to me?” and “how objective is it?” So that you can verify that these messages are not real and at the same time understand that they are only trying to protect you. 

Try to Manage Your Emotions 

Many people experience fear – or at least some degree of anxiety – when getting on an airplane, and that’s nothing out of the ordinary. In previous articles we’ve discussed how you acquire this fear and all the factors that lead you to experience it. You can read our post “4 Steps to Manage Your Emotions Inflight” and learn how you can process them when they emerge on a flight. 

Practice Relaxation Exercises 

Faced with fear, your body can become agitated; for this reason, relaxation techniques such as breathing or muscle relaxation, can help reduce anxiety symptoms. Try to spend a few minutes a day to put them into practice and integrate them as tools to use in situations when you find yourself starting to get upset. 

Bring Pastimes which Help You Relax 

It can be soothing music, a good book, a video game… Many of us have hobbies that help them disconnect from the outside world and connect with an inner world. Think about the things you enjoy and take them with you to make your flight more relaxing. 

On Long Flights, Walk Around 

Flights of more than, say, three hours can be challenging  and can have physical consequences, so, take the opportunity to walk around every now and then, even if it’s just to the lavatory. It is a way to protect and care for your body. 

The Crew Can Help 

The flight attendants are there to look after you and help in whatever way they can. They are also very familiar with flying, so if you’re having a tough time or if you have any questions, you can count on them. 

Practice ‘Mindfulness’

This is about living consciously. Mindfulness is about focusing your senses on something specific. It’s a way to free yourself from distracting thoughts and remain in the present. You can put it into practice with things as simple as listening to the music on the entertainment system or your own phone; focussing on the texture of some object; or on enjoying the taste of your beverage or food. It is about paying attention to what you do with your senses, and we highly recommend that you practice and familiarise yourself with it in your daily life, too. 

Writing as a Way to Let Go and Remember 

Writing of course helps shape ideas, but also feelings. You can take advantage of the flight time to write about everything you’ve experienced on the trip and to think about other places you’d like to visit. It’s a good way to connect with yourself and leave travel memories to read about in the future. 

Everyone is different, and, if these ideas don’t work for you, keep looking for strategies that will.
Just remember that the bottom line is that listening to yourself and responding to what you need is the best way to take care of yourself.