Today I thought I would post something sort of Christmas/holiday related and that is holiday travel! As most you know, I have dealt with anxiety and panic attacks in the past. They have since resolved and I should probably revisit how I beat the beast in 2017, but in the meantime I thought I would post some tricks and tips for holiday travel. Although I have beat the anxiety, some things still make me anxious and I've learned how to ease myself in them. Some of those things include traffic and crowds (I avoid shopping on the weekends if I can) and planes (mostly because I feel claustrophobic in addition to I get REALLY BAD earaches on planes... oh yeah and the falling to your death thing).
Here are my tips and tricks for surviving your flights!
Bring reading material. A magazine, a book you've already started, anything and everything. Even if you get motion sickness, you can use it before take off or during the flight to distract yourself.
Bring a water bottle. Sometimes water can be calming and help distract you.
Chose an isle seat if you feel claustrophobic or a window seat if you plan on snuggling up and sleeping the whole flight.
Bring music. I listened to Taylor Swift's 1989 album on repeat. It was the only music I could really tune into and tune out that I was in an aircraft.
Download a game or a movie. Another great distraction, especially if it's a TV show or movie you love or are extremely interested in. I would recommend The Office. Laughter really is the best medicine.
If you get nauseous from anxiety and/or flying, ask for a ginger alefrom the flight attendants. Also avoid eating a big meal before. I ate half a bagel. I needed enough food in my stomach to not get lightheaded but not too much that I would get sick
If you don't get nauseous, bring snacks to keep you occupied. If you spend some or all of the flight eating, you won't notice your anxiety as much.
Talk to the person next to you. I read a study that people who randomly chat with their airplane neighbor are happier. It will make you more comfortable with the situation.
Distract yourself with those around you. Watch a little kids play (not in a creepy way), make up stories about people, again anything to distract the anxiety.
Realize that flying is safe... and once you're in that seat, it's out of your hands. You can't change anything. Worrying won't make the plane not crash, it will just make you miserable, so just sit back and relax.
If you've flown before, remind yourself that you've done this before and you can do it now.
If you are too anxious, talk to the flight attendant. They may be able to find you an open row of seats and maybe even come talk to you during the flight to lift some of your worries.
Choose your seat carefully. The back of the plane is the safest, the middle is least turbulent (loud though), and the front is best if you need to get off the plane quick to make a connecting flight.
Read and learn about planes and the normal noises they make.
Watch the flight attendants. They've flown a million times. If they are relaxed then relax, nothing is wrong.
Sleep. I always like to be a little tired before I fly, so I can sleep on the plane. Book early morning flights or red-eyes to make it easier to sleep.
Wear comfortable clothing and layers. There is nothing worse than too tight of pants or being too hot or too cold on a flight. Wear layers. I wore a sweater, a sweatshirt, and a coat, which I took on and put back on throughout the entire flight.
DON'T drink alcohol. It can be dehydrating and cause heart palpitations, both of which can make anxiety worse.
And last but not least, if you just can't handle it, if you are on the verge of freaking out, getting up and running screaming from your seat, talk to your doctor. A low dose benzodiazepine, such as Xanax or Ativan, can really be a life safer. If you have anxiety, you should already be treating it. NOTE: these medications are extremely addicting and fatal in large doses. Take caution and realize this is an EMERGENCY situation, not an every day thing.