Flying While Anxious

I have anxiety about flying, especially when flying alone. I can’t remember when it started but I know that I’ve been like this for several years. My anxiety means that I have to put some boundaries in place before and during a flight. Simple things like – I don’t sleep on planes. My anxiety won’t let me. I never eat before I fly. My stomach likes to cut up so I can’t trust it. I say the same prayer during takeoff on every flight, which includes praying for pilots, airline stewards, engineers, baggage handlers, basically any person who had contact with the plane that day. But I also have to consider who I sit next to that will help lower my anxiety.

Not eating and praying are just 2 ways that I help calm my nerves. Here are a few more, in no particular order, including a few examples of the types of passangers that I look forward to sitting new to.

Grandmas! There is something about sitting next to a woman who is clearly a grandmother. That calm disposition, wanting to talk about all her grand kids, while asking what you do for work and then sharing how proud she is of YOU. Yes, the person she just met but has genuine concern for. And nothing is better than the moment she offers sage wisdom and advice that only a grandma can give.

Sisters, best friends or best coworkers. Ear hustling their banter about previous trip experiences or office gossip is the best! I always find myself giggling or say Amen under my breath. On the rare occasion, if we make eye contact… it’s on! Their party of 2 just become a party of 3. Lol. I’m all up and in the business.

A confident black woman. Most likely she is traveling for business and she walks with grace. She slays with her attire and speaks to all the flight crew. She works from her iPad or iphone and leaves the laptop for the heavy lifting later. But the air around her says that she knows who she is, what she’s about and where she’s going. There is something to be said about sitting with someone who has this energy!

A newlywed couple. Love always gets me in a happy place, but that new new love… the one that says they don’t care where they are as long as they’re together, that’s the one that makes my heart smile. But not too much though… you know they can over do it and then I’ll be like ‘just get a room”. LOL.

Ginger ale. Lol. It never fails! For a person who has anxiety about flying, only 2 beverages help keep me together – alcohol or ginger ale. Ginger ale is my first choice because it “settles” my stomach. Or maybe I like to think it does. I don’t like paying for alcohol so there has to be some drink tickets involved for that to work out.

An window seat! For a person with anxiety about flying, believe it or not, it helps me to be able to see. While I maintain that clouds are from the devil (turbulence makes me insane), I still want to see them. Lol. I know. It makes no sense at all. But I like to look outside. 

A good book or magazine. Years ago, I loved flipping through Southwest Airlines Spirit magazine or the Mall Catalog. There was always good articles on travel locations, great recommendations for restaurants and shopping, and even these feel good stories about airline staff going above and beyond. For years, I had a pre-flying ritual of buying a magazine in the airport for the flight. Normally something cheesy that I would never read like Cosmopolitan or something like that.

My “I’m on vacation” mindset should be last, but not least, on this list. Whether my flight is for work or personal, I always say that I’m on vacation. Because the truth is… I am! It’s a break from the normal routine of life. And we all need a break sometimes. Even though my anxiety is high, the simple fact that I’m headed to a new destination helps to alliveate it. So I have to remember to stay humble and calm and take advantage of it when I can.

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