5 Ways to Combat Flying Anxiety
Ah, flying. It can be a wonderful way to help us get to our destination quickly, but it can also be (especially in times like these) a source of major anxiety. And while flying is considered one of the safest modes of transportation, it is not hard to believe that 20 million people suffer from aerophobia, or the fear of flying. The thought of being suspended in mid-air for hours, confined to a small space, is definitely enough to send people’s nerves into overdrive. And then add in 2020’s pandemic hysteria regarding health, safety precautions and endless protocols, and fears can go even further over the edge.
So, let’s take a look at 5 smart ways to tackle flight anxiety, which will (hopefully) help make for a much more enjoyable trip!
1. Restful and Sufficient Sleep
Ever notice how when you aren’t well rested that your levels of anxiety regarding various things in your life generally seem to heighten? Lack of sleep can cause you to feel physically less present and mentally less aware, creating an overall feeling of being off-center. Naturally, the exhaustion and confusion as a result of lack of good sleep compounded by a barrage of tasks you must complete to get to your destination, only add to an already stressful situation.
And remember, not all sleep is created equal, and just sleeping enough hours is not necessarily sufficient, if you’re not getting restful sleep. Then of course, there is the matter of the sleep you could potentially get on your flight! To be able to drift off to sleep on the plane, you need to relax enough to rest. And you definitely want to try sleeping on the plane to avoid jet lag when you land, especially if you have a long flight and are flying to a location in a different time zone. Getting some good, restful sleep on your flight will help keep anxiety at bay.
Additionally, making an effort to manage your time well to ease some of the stress and craziness of packing and preparing for your trip, thus allowing you to relax and catch a solid 7 to 8 hours of sleep before your flight, will help curb flying anxiety from creeping in.
Stretching is another great way to alleviate stress which leads to pre-flight anxiety. One of the discomforts of flying, and one that very well could be responsible for heightened anxiety surrounding travels, is the prospect of being stuck in the same position, sandwiched between (smelly, loud) strangers. And let's be honest — that prospect is enough to raise even a calm person’s blood pressure. So, get ahead of it and do some stretching before your flight.
Stretching helps ease tension and relaxes your joints and muscles, while calming your mind. There are many ways to stretch. You could jump all in with exercises such as yoga, pilates, or use resistance bands. However, some good, old-fashioned stretching will do fine as well. Remember, the key is to relax, but not so much as to fall asleep and miss your flight ;)
3. Good Time Management
As we touched on above, one great way to prepare yourself mentally for flying is to alleviate external factors that can heighten your sensitivity and cause anxiety. One of those factors is stress that stems from being in a rush. Time-related stress can exacerbate any concerns or anxiety we already have about flying.
So, how can you best avoid this uncomfortable, but often inevitable circumstance? Leave buffer room in your timing on the day of travel to mentally prepare yourself for all of the possibilities that can ensue. If you have prepared a contingency plan in case Murphy’s Law decides to go into full effect mid-journey, then when/if things go unexpectedly, they are a bit less unexpected for you, or you may even be fully prepared to tackle them head-on. So, whether it’s potential traffic on your way to the airport, a delay when already there, possible missed connections due to one flight being held up — there are small ways to prepare for them — leave the house with enough cushion time in case something pops up. Check the travel time and check for flight delays before you leave for the airport, and in case of delays and possible connected flights — try to calculate out how much cushion time you have and if it’s not enough, call and find out the next flight you can be moved to after explaining the situation. To (almost) every obstacle, there is a solution.
4. Practice Deep Breathing
Yes, something that should be obvious and instinctual to everyone is one of the key things we forget to do when upset, in a rush, or worried — breathe. Often if you find yourself feeling anxious, you will also notice this uptight feeling, like the air is being sucked out of you — and it often is the case! When we are overcome with fear and anxiety, we can forget to breathe in and out, heightening that feeling of panic and allowing it to fester and take over our bodies.
So start with baby steps, check yourself at times you know you may feel heightened anxiety around the flight, whether it's boarding time, liftoff, turbulence, or landing. When you begin to feel that tightness set in, take a long, deep breath (you should see your belly rise) in through your nose and slowly release through your mouth. The mind follows the breath, and breathing slowly and deeply slows your respiratory rate, thus calming your mind and body. Repeat as necessary and you will notice immediate improvement in your anxious state. It’s also a great practice to put in reminders to check yourself and practice a few deep breaths before the onset of worry. Maybe take a breath break every 30-40 minutes and just stop for a few minutes to breathe deeply, in and out.
5. Natural Supplements and Remedies
We’ve all seen the variety of supplements and vitamins that are available to help with stress and anxiety. One way to aid in making sure you get that rest and relaxation — CBD! A plethora of CBD products have been making their way into mainstream markets in recent years, and CBD has become a popular remedy for easing anxiety associated with travel. As you likely know, we here at River Organics are proud advocates of the amazing natural supplement that is CBD, and the potential it offers with a variety of health and wellness benefits, including helping to ease anxiety.
But before jumping on the bandwagon, let’s get into what CBD is, how it can help manage anxiety, and how to make sure you are travelling with it legally. CBD, which stands for cannabidiol, is the second most common active ingredient produced by the cannabis sativa plant. CBD originates from the hemp plant, which is a cousin of the marijuana plant, but unlike marijuna, it is non-psychoactive. CBD products that are derived from hemp are mandated by law to contain less than 0.3% THC by weight, which is not enough THC to cause any psychoactive effects on its user.
So, if you’re not going to feel high, what kinds of effects will you feel? While research is ongoing to study the effects of CBD, studies indicate (and our customers exclaim as well!) how the natural remedy has a calming effect on the body as it interacts with the body’s own endocannabinoid system to bring the body to a state of equilibrium, helping you relax, easing anxiety, along with soothing pain and inflammation.
Travelling with CBD
Ok, now on to ensure you are not stopped by airport security while travelling with a CBD product (because we are trying to decrease your anxiety, not add to it). Thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, the production, possession and sale of CBD products is now legal under federal law. Within the U.S., you can fly with CBD products that contain less than 0.3 percent THC. However, TSA rules very much apply, in that any liquids (oils, tinctures, creams) must be less than 3 ounces.
While CBD is legal by federal law, it is not yet regulated, and the law varies from state to state, which means that guidelines are constantly changing. Most states will allow possession of hemp-based CBD, because CBD derived from hemp is required to have less than 0.3 percent THC. However, if you're traveling to a state that you know has strict marijuana regulations, you’ll probably want to research the state laws.
You should also make sure to thoroughly understand the products in your possession, and whether they contain higher amounts of THC or are purely CBD. The best rule of thumb when traveling with CBD is to research whether your destination (and any countries or states you are traveling through to get to your destination) allow CBD.
Happy, safe and stress-free travels, everyone!