Okay blog readers,
This is the first time I’ll be traveling alone to Kashmir via Dubai. No parent to take me or receive on the other end. I need to finish up everything regarding my dad’s estate after his passing. Though I have a lot of odds against me, I hope to get things running properly as soon as possible. If you’ve been keeping up-to-date with my all my latest travel antics, you know that I have my fair share of travel anxiety.
It began at JFK. Even before arriving, I started freezing in the cab ride. I instinctively blamed it on the A.C. because my stomach was also hurting. Then I remembered I had a bag of Cheetos, which I had quickly snuck in three hours before leaving for the airport. They were the flaming hot ones, to be exact. That was mistake number one. I knew I shouldn’t eat bad food before flying. I didn’t know why I thought this time would be any different.
It’s weird. As much as I love traveling, flying and the anticipation of not knowing what can happen really freaks me out. Once I’m on the plane, though, I’m alright.
The one other time I had an anxiety attack, when I thought I was going to die, was right before leaving for Paris. I made the stupid decision of having ice cream at the airport. With slight lactose intolerance, and the fact that it was airport food and ice cream, I was on the toilet for more than the appropriate time. I can be a baby when I’m not well, and I started to let worrisome thoughts come to my head about my flight. I was with my best friend at the time, but scared because I had no family. I would be only staying with his; I didn’t know French, and it was my first time leaving home.
I started to play scenes from the movie “Taken” in my head, and then BOOM! I experienced my worst anxiety attack to date. I couldn’t stop going to the bathroom, I felt nauseous and wanted to vomit but couldn’t. I began to cry and had trouble breathing. I was shaking and shivering. I called my mother and told her over the phone that I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t get on the plane. I couldn’t leave. She told me to come home, but somehow I pulled it halfway together and my friend dragged me on the plane. I passed out and woke up an hour before arrival. Then I was fine the whole time in Paris and it was an absolute dream.
It was not much different at JFK, though a little less in that I didn’t have trouble breathing. But I was shivering, freaking out, and vomiting in the restroom. My mother talked me through it. This trip was needed so I had to find the courage. I was so cold that I bought a New York tourist sweater, which prompted the sales person to ask if I was visiting. Then I curled up in a ball on a chair and waited.
My flight was scheduled for 11:00 p.m. But six hours before, I’d received a call at home from the airline that my plane was delayed and would be taking off at 2:30 a.m. instead. Which meant I’d be arriving at a later time in Dubai (my three-day stopover) as well. Nothing was going the way I planned. And for someone who is as anal about time as me, that was bothering me a lot.
My flight didn’t board until 2:00 am and considering I had woken up that day at 6 and taken my final exam on the same day I was tired. The anticipation was killing me. I just kept reminding myself to breathe.
I was finally able to get on the flight. I took my seat and seeing as I was still shivering, a random man inquired to see if I was okay. It was clearly noticeable that I wasn’t feeling well. But I was so exhausted that I just murmured “yea” and closed my eyes. A few seconds later, he came back and just handed me a huge bottle of water without a tag. Although it was a sweet gesture, and if you’re reading this: person who inquired about my health, I am okay and I thank you. However, I am even more anal about taking drinks from strangers, and I just couldn’t bring my nerves to open it, no matter the circumstance.
I was alright after taking a nearly 10-hour nap.
So, what do you do when your anxiety gives you anxiety? I wanted to share some tips that I thought could help you if you’re in a similar boat as me. I’m still working to conquer my anxiety but these things are slowly helping me.
Exercise. Whether it’s regularly or just day before the day of your flight (or something you’re anxious about) exercise helps to keep your mood positive. Go running and do some cardio in the morning to jumpstart your day.
Lay off the junk food. I think having those Cheetos were the main culprit, which was the onset of my anxiety. Eating healthy will result in a healthy mind and body!
Meditate. This isn’t for everyone but it does help me. It especially got me through a grueling finals week. Give it a chance if you haven’t before. There are some pretty good tutorials on YouTube, too.
Have a Magnesium tablet and Vitamin B-12. Magnesium is known to help with anxiety and vitamin B gives me a lot of energy. Taking both can smooth out your troubles.
Make a Positive List. Sit down and make a list of all the reasons why you’re doing what you’re doing and the positive and nice things that can come out of it. Reading it over and over can set your mind at ease.
Always have a sweater or blanket with you before your flight. Self-explanatory. I’ve learned that airports can be freezing. And as someone who gets cold easily, when I shiver I worry. Make sure to be prepared.
Drink Chamomile Tea. It’s been proven and tested to calm nerves and help with anxiety. It’s done the thing for me a few times, too.
Talk it out. Inform someone about how your feeling. I always tell a flight attendant that I feel anxious before a flight because it’s scary. I ask them if I can board first because it calms me down when I get on the plane faster. Don’t say that they need to be worry about any major health-risks, though (unless they actually do), because you know how that can lead into a catastrophe, unnecessarily. Tell them what they can do to ease your journey. It’s their job!
Finally, put your hand over your heart and keep breathing. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. You find your heart still beating, which means you’re alive! Nothing will happen. No one has ever died of an anxiety attack. You will be fine. You will not die; do not worry!
Call a loved on and talk to them. Whether it’s telling them how you feel or just having a nice long conservation that can distract you, it could help.
Finally, download some movies or tv shows to watch. I learned this on this round of traveling. I downloaded season 5 of “Royal Pains” (my current Netflix addiction) and watched it while in the waiting area. It completely distracted me and before I knew it my flight was boarding.
Find the pattern. Find the things that onset your anxiety and avoid them. For example, I realized eating before my flight upsets my already uneasy stomach. So I need to avoid food before getting on the plane.
I’ve always thought listening to music could calm me down too but it doesn’t. At least for me, it gives me room to think about the 1000 unnecessary things that get me worried. I hope these tips help. Here’s hoping you can conquer your anxiety and fears, and that I do, too.
Picture via Elite Daily