Yesterday I woke up and hopped on a plane to Portland, Oregon. To anyone this is normal, no big deal, but for me, this is HUGE. Because, I get plane anxiety. As a child flying on planes, I never had anxiety. It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with Diabetes, Lyme, and POTS that I began developing anxiety about the weirdest things. Flying being one of them. I took a trip to Texas earlier this year, and that was the first time I had ever flown since being diagnosed with anything. I hadn’t flown for 9 years. So, needless to say, I had an incredible amount of anxiety. Luckily, I was with my boyfriend at the time, and he really was helpful and attentive to all my needs. I truly appreciate that my first time flying again was with him. But now, I needed to overcome flying solo.
I have never flown alone in my entire life. So, two big fears I was facing when I booked this one-way ticket to Portland: flying alone and flying in general. I prepped differently for this flight. I began changing my thoughts a few weeks before my flight date. Instead of focusing on the dread of it, I began envisioning myself being joyful on the flight, being calm and free. Every time I began to feel anxious I would replace it with immediate thoughts of positivity and confidence. The day arrived of my flight, and yes, I was nervous. My heart began racing and stomach began feeling unsettled. I tried to not feed into those symptoms of fear, and I continued with my morning routine. My sweet mom dropped me off at the airport and I said goodbye to her, knowing the next time I would see her, I would be a different person. A stronger person. A person who overcame her fears.
As my journey through the airport began, I honestly had no idea what I was doing, but I listened and asked for help when I needed to, and everyone was so helpful and kind in leading me to the right gate. It was time for boarding and I was one of the first ones to board the plane, which was amazing! I even had the entire row to myself. The main reason why I get anxiety about flying is the taking off and lowering the plane in elevation. My head and ears get very sensitive and it makes me feel very sick. So, this is why I have the anxiety in the first place. But as I sat there alone in my seat, I prayed, and listened to music that would lift my soul as the plan lifted. 30 minutes until our landing, we flew over Oregon and as I gazed upon the volcanoes, Crater Lake, the mountains, and luscious nature of trees, I felt this overwhelming sense of joy rush through me. Knowing I was finally arriving in Oregon. A place where I had been wanting to go for the past few years. I was just in awe of the beauty from atop, and the beauty of the fact that I did this alone.
I am a person that loves to explore with the people I love. I love spending time with others and trying new things. I love also being in my comfort zone. Because of this, in the past, I had prevented myself from reaching outside my comfort zone boundaries. I would let my fear overcome me and stop me from doing the things I wanted to. But, I have realized that it’s so important to my growth and maturity to venture outside my boundaries and take myself outside my comfort zone. I realized that if I wanted to change certain aspects of myself, I must change certain aspects of my routine. I learned that I grow by challenging myself to new adventures, and things that make me afraid or uncomfortable. Just by taking this solo flight, I have learned so much about myself, and it feels great being able to discover parts of who I am and what makes me, me, and gain a stronger sense of independence.
I wanted to leave you guys with tips I found helpful for those who have flying anxiety.
- Always check in and pre-pay your checked bag ahead of time. This leaves more time for you to find your gate, and it helps ease any flight stress.
- If you are unsure of anything, always ask. Don’t be stubborn. People will help you and in return, you also end up getting to know different types of people and it always feels great having unplanned conversations.
- Bring a book, your phone, an external battery charger, and your headphones to keep you busy while you wait at the gate.
- Ask your friends and family for prayers over you and your flight. Knowing someone is praying over your safety and health, brings peace that is indescribable.
- Ice chips and peppermint oil helps calm nerves during the flight.
- Focusing on a movie helps with the elevation changes.
- Bringing a Lego set to work with helps keep your hands and mind occupied when you feel some nerves about turbulence.
- Befriending the flight attendants is a great way to feel safe and secure.
- Focusing on your destination and all the fun adventures you will be doing soon, helps keep you in good focused mindset.
- And lastly, anything you put your mind to, (emphasis on mind), you can achieve. Your fear is built from your thoughts. Change your thoughts, alleviate your fears. Sometimes it takes multiple times and experiences to completely change the fear, but sometimes it takes only one time. Either way, changing your thought life helps change the mood and perspective on any situation.