I recently flew from Philly to Nashville and I am happy to say I didn’t have my usual panic attack while flying. I hadn’t flown in 4 years so I was very nervous about how I would handle this flight. My family and I were headed to my cousins wedding and my kids were the ring bearer and flower girl so I couldn’t let my anxiety stop me from making it there.
To prepare for the flight my therapist recommended I work on my visualization. I have done this a lot over the years. Different therapist have recommended I do this to help get over fears. I have used visualization to help prepare myself for situations where I know I am going to feel very anxious like driving new places, flying, being in the hospital and dealing with the death of a loved one.
To visualize I lay in my bed and make sure the room is dark and quiet. I close my eyes and try to imagine the situation that causes my anxiety. The trick is to try and make yourself feel the anxiety like you are really in the situation. I know it sounds like so much fun! BUT it’s better to feel the anxiety in the comfort of your own home. It will help reduce your anxiety in the actual situation because you have practiced feeling the anxiety and managing it.
You want to try and make yourself as anxious as you possibly can. It seems awful and crazy but it will help you. Personally, I would rather feel anxious at home and know that it will make me feel less anxious in the actual situation later. You really need to focus on the situation that is making you anxious. Go slowly and think about every thing you will see, feel, hear and smell in the situation. Visualize the situation from start to finish.
To visualize flying I start by focusing on waiting in the terminal for the plane. I envision myself in the airport near the terminal as they are about to start boarding the plane. I am usually walking around and trying to distract myself. Then I will envision them announcing that they are about to board the plane and how anxious I feel when I hear the time as finally come! I think about walking down the hallway to the plane, stepping into the plane and walking to my seat. I envison the flight attendants greeting me and all the people on the plane. My anxiety always rises as I visualize sitting in my seat as they close the door and the plane starts to back up and roll towards the runway.
I go through everything from take off, to being on the plane during turbulence and even when we land. The more I am able to work up my anxiety the better. Like I said it sucks at the time but the more you do it the better prepared you are for the actual situation. I worked on my visualization once a day for two weeks before the flight. I can honestly say it helped me feel less anxious on the plane.
Visualization helps you work out the things you should do to calm your anxiety when you are in the situation. When you get your anxiety up during visualization you have the opportunity to practice alleviating your anxiety. You can practice your breathing exercises or things to tell yourself when you are in the situation. It can give you the opportunity to prepare your anxiety calming kit! Things that will help reduce your anxiety like adult coloring books, lavender essential oils, stress squeeze toys and glitter tubes. You can see my Etsy shop selling these kits HERE or to see my blog post on anxiety calming kits click HERE .
I created a kit for this flight and one of my favorite things was my lavender essential oil inhaler stick. There is something calming about this scent to me. I also loved my acupressure ring. I rolled it up and down my finger from when I got on the plane until we had been in the air for awhile. I like the feeling it creates. It is a tiny bit painful but something about the sensation is soothing to me. I also used a personal air conditioner that I was testing out for my Etsy shop. It is basically a little fan but I loved pressing the button and having the cool air blast me when I was feeling anxious. Planes can sometimes be hot when you are boarding and before take off. I also tend to get hot when anxious and having this mini air conditioner was relieving to me. I wanted to use my adult coloring books but my two toddlers prevented me from using them. The last thing I did was breath through a straw that I had in my kit. I learned this trick from a video on YouTube that I watched about the fear of flying.
That is another thing I would recommend- watching YouTube videos about your fear. There is an abundance of YouTube videos for the fear of flying. Watching these videos helped prepare me for the flight. Two of my favorite YouTube videos on the fear of flying are: “Plane Whisperer” Helps Others Overcome Fear – to watch click HERE and The Virgin Airlines Fear of Flying Help Video- to watch click HERE
Visualization is also another practice in realizing no matter what the situation your anxiety will go down. When it starts it feels like it is going to last forever but it never does. It always goes away. If you get your anxiety really high during visualization it can be a good opportunity to see once again your anxiety will dissipate. It is also helpful for practicing your breathing exercises, cooping statements and anything else that helps soothe you when you are anxious.
If you are getting anxious just thinking about an upcoming situation in your life please try visualization. I strongly believe it will help you no matter what the situation. It is work to set aside the time to do it and it is hard to make yourself feel anxious for “practice” but I promise you it is worth it. It will make the anxiety easier to manage when you face the situation.
If you also have a fear of flying, click HERE to see my blog post on 10 tips for flying with anxiety.