Jasmin Charlotte is a blogger who focuses on technology, adventure and travel. That last part is rather notable, given that she has a serious flying phobia. However, she wasn't about to let a little hysterical crying, sweaty palms and pre-trip nausea keep her from seeing the world. She decided to actively work on overcoming her fear, and for the most part she's succeeded.
Here's how Jasmin quit her fear of flying.
* * *
Do you remember when your fear of flying began?
I definitely didn't have it when I was younger, I slept blissfully! I think it started when I was a teenager and I had quite a big gap in between when I had been on planes. This led to me building it up in my mind and eventually the fear starting. My mum has always had a really bad fear of flying which I think contributed to it as well!
What did the fear feel/look like in the days leading up to the flight? What about on the flight?
It would consume me for the days before hand and it was all I would think about, slowly getting worse and worse as I thought of more scenarios. It would wiggle its way into my dreams and it was guaranteed I wouldn't sleep the night before. I actually made myself sick from it once! On the flight, it was even worse, usually crying, lots of nervous jumping and grabbing onto seat arms at the slight move of turbulence. Not fun!
Despite the fact that flying terrifies you, what was it that made you decide the prospect of travel was worth all the scary stuff?
As I was living in New Zealand, I didn't have much choice - if I wanted to leave the country I had to fly!! My family moved away to Aus and the UK as well. I really love travel, it is something that means so much to me and I made a pact to myself very early on that despite how horrible the flying was, I would never let it stop me from exploring the world and doing the things I love.
What was the first step you took to conquering your fear?
I went on a mission to find more information and to get help for it. I visited the doctor, who really helped me in those early days to calm down. Then, I listened to podcasts and bought some free ebooks which ran through the fear itself and let me be able to rationalise it. It was a gradual process and I definitely do still get a bit of anxiety running up to the flight, but nowhere near as much as I did. I haven't shed a tear on a flight in years!
What do you do prior to the trip to deal with your anxiety?
It is all about not letting it snowball. If I sit and dwell on it, then I know I will continually worry. I try and keep busy all the way up until the trip and also try and book something nice the day before. I usually go for something like a massage as they are one of my favourite things. I know that if I have that booked, whenever I start thinking about flying I can distract myself with thoughts of my amazing massage. Doing a whole lot of holiday planning and researching is a great distraction too!
What do you do once you get to the airport?
It's key to make sure you don't get stressed here as then it puts you in the anxiety mindset. I always try and get to the airport early, leaving plenty of time for bags and security. There's nothing worse than getting stressed out and worked up right before the flight. This also leaves time for a bite to eat and to buy some bits and pieces to take on the plane. Again, keeping busy is key, need to keep the mind ticking over! Make sure you take an interesting book to bury your head in as well.
On the plane?
I have certain things on the plane which make me more anxious. I totally hate take off a lot more than the rest of flight. I always make sure that I either block my ears or have music on and am reading a book or magazine. I get more worked up when warm, so try and keep the fan on and where less clothing on this bit - I always get really sweaty palms!
I know that once the seatbelt signs are off and people are wandering about that I will start to feel a bit calmer. I also really recommend looking into some breathing techniques and yoga for the plane and that is essential at calming your bodies reaction.
When I was still very scared, I would also inform the flight attendant before the plane took off, this way they will usually come and check on you which always did a good job at calming me down! I still don't enjoy turbulence, mainly as it reminds me I'm in the air! But I have done more reading around it which has made me feel better, it's always described as a bumpy road, and we all know that the journey to the airport has a whole lot of bumpy roads, so it's bound to happen in the sky too!
Since you’ve deliberately decided to face your flying fears, have you noticed a big shift in your brain and body when it comes to flying? What do you think made the biggest difference?
Definitely! I'm no longer weeping from check in until my destination! I can fly and finally look like everyone else on the plane, calm and normal. I think it's really a combination of all of the tips above and really working on techniques to reduce anxiety. It's also been key to fly regularly and more often. My fear will build up if I leave it too long, so I always try and fly a couple times a year at least, which is a lot easier now with all the cheap flights in Europe!
Advice for someone who’s afraid to fly?
Do your research and find some good books on the topic, research anxiety and breathing techniques, pinpoint your key anxiety points and work on mitigating those, and always make sure you just get on that plane!!
* * *
Are you afraid of flying (or have some other crippling fear)? How have you been able to overcome it? Share your tips in the comments!
PS Here's a fantastic interview about how my friend Beth overcame her fear of rollercoasters.