When it comes to anxiety, travel can be a big trigger. I have found that one of the best ways to combat my anxiety is to be prepared. I was able to survive a 15-hour flight followed by a 10-hour flight to Australia because I was prepared. If you suffer from anxiety and are worried about an upcoming long flight, read on for tips on how to combat that anxiety and have smooth flying.
General Tips for Long Travel
- Pack intelligently. Here is a complete list of what you may need.
- Get up and walk around or stretch frequently. It will help with your circulation and prevent blood clots. You will find that your legs will start to feel swollen and heavy after so many hours of sitting.
- Drink a lot of water throughout your travels. It will also help with your circulation. Pack your own empty water bottle and ask the flight attendants to fill it for you. You can also pack powder drink packets if you want something other than water.
- Preset alarms for any timely medications you need to take. This will prevent you from having to do any headache-inducing math while you are traveling. Also make sure you pack enough medication for a few days in case your checked luggage gets lost.
- Brush your teeth right before you decide to sleep on your flight. It will help keep you in routine and trick your brain into thinking it is bedtime.
- Load up on vitamin C, multivitamins, or airborne a few days before you leave. Not only will it hopefully keep you from getting sick (no one likes to travel sick), but also it could help prevent you from getting ill from your travels. (You are stuck in a chamber of stale air and germs for many hours.)
Managing Anxiety on Long Flights
- Pay extra to pick your seats. It is worth it. Personally I like the aisle seat so you can get up frequently without worrying about your sleeping neighbors. As someone with social anxiety, having to wake someone up so I can pee is a terrible trigger.
- Pull up the world clocks on each city during your travels. It will give you a better idea of the time that has passed and a sense of control.
- Avoid coffee and caffeine. While it may seem tempting to get that caffeine kick, coffee can make anxiety worse. The last thing you want is to have the caffeine jitters when you are stuck on a plane for another 6 hours. Coffee also dehydrates you. Instead of kicking back those cups of joe, try a few chocolate covered espresso beans or only drink half the coffee that you normally would.
- Bring any anxiety medication/supplements you have. While this may seem obvious, if you only take medication when you are already having an attack, you could forget. Consider melatonin or sleep medications as well. If you are asleep, you won’t be feeling anxious.
- Download your favorite movies, tv shows, or songs to your electronics. While most planes have their own entertainment systems, having your favorites with you can be comforting in case your mind starts to get anxious.
- On that note, avoid any tv shows or movies that fall under the categories of suspense or thriller, especially if you have never seen them before. This genres can be triggers for anxiety.
- Watch what you eat. Avoid junky, sugary, and spicy food. They can cause tummy troubles and make anxiety worse. Try healthier, more filling foods instead.
- Don’t check the time. I put my phone away and avoid looking at the clock on the screen. If you are checking the time every ten minutes, you are sure to get a little anxious.
- Don’t focus on how long your flight is. The longest flight I have ever had was 15 hours. While this may seem daunting, that is still less than a day, and you do spend a good bit of your time sleeping. If you have a ten-hour flight, it is about equivalent to one workday including your commute. You can manage that.
- Do your best to distract yourself. Use a variety of entertainment options to keep your mind focused on something other than the fact that you still have four hours to go.
Use these tips to help keep your anxiety in check while going on long trips. You will be able to focus more on all of the fun you will have at your destination and will make traveling more enjoyable.