How to Calm Travel Anxiety Naturally: Over the Counter Remedies
As often as I travel, I’m still susceptible to flight anxiety, also known as aviophobia. I internally freak out when turbulence hits, or stress myself out when I’m exhausted and dreading another long flight. But I’ve found a number of remedies to help those who are scared of flying that don’t involve popping prescription meds. Here’s my best tips to naturally combat fear of flying:
Set a Good Travel Foundation with Stress Fighting, Health Boosting Supplements
If I show up at the airport tired and stressed, there’s no question I’ll be tensing up every time we hit a little turbulence. It’s not always possible to remove anxiety-causing stress from our lives, but we can create a healthy foundation for our brains and bodies. If you’re not already, consider taking a daily supplement to fill in gaps in your diet and support your overall health.
It can seem like a good idea to avoid sleeping before a long flight or order to ensure sleep on the plane. However many people who struggle with anxiety will recognize sleep deprivation as a trigger. Do your best to arrive at the airport un-rushed and well rested, so you’re less susceptible to the stresses of travel. Things like starting to pack your suitcase at least a day before departure, planning transportation ahead of time, and even creating a packing checklist can help create a stress-free foundation for your trip.
Calming Supplements for Flight Anxiety
Unlike sleeping pills (which I don’t recommend when flying), calming nighttime supplements and herbal remedies for flight anxiety won’t konk you out. But they will gently help you to relax and quiet that part of your mind that’s afraid of flying.
If your flight is long enough, do try and get some sleep. Skip the alcohol, and opt for hot tea along with a calming supplement. While booze may relax you in the short term, it’s a not a good solution for a long flight, and you’ll pay for it in the longer term. Ramping down your out of control nervous system is the first step in overcoming fear of flying.
I do try to sleep for as much of my flight as I can. (And honestly, this is just as much to not be awake and suffering, as it is to arrive fresh and ready to explore).
Aromatherapy can be a simple but effective remedy for travel anxiety. Calming scents like lavender and frankincense help to quiet the mind and distract from your surroundings. Aromatherapy is a staple of my travel toiletry kit.
And if you already have an aromatherapy routine at home, the scents can provide a very real sense of safety, familiarity and routine. Just be sparing and keep in mind that your seatmates may not appreciate going overboard with strong scents.
Noise Cancelling Headphones for Nervous Flyers
This last remedy is a little more high-tech, but it’s been so helpful for me.
With the engine hum and ambient noise, it can be difficult to sleep or even relax on a plane. And when I’m feeling anxious, I over-analyze EVERY perfectly normal plane sound. Does your anxiety peak during plane take off and landing too? Trying to ignore all the sounds around you may be asking too much of your brain. Instead, just shut it all out.
After finally giving up on earbuds (do they hurt anyone else’s ears?), I invested in a pair of nice noise cancelling headphones. I hoped that they’d make flying a more pleasant experience, but was still amazed when all the bustle around me just fell away. I feel a little more “alone” even in claustrophobia inducing plane seats; just me and my relaxing playlist. As a bonus, they also help me to stay asleep a little longer on planes.
The Sony pair that I use and love is linked above, but here’s some additional options:
I haven’t tried CBD oil myself, but I know people who swear by it for anxiety and sleep. However, it can sometimes be risky to travel with CBD products due to shaky legality internationally and even within the US. Yes, it’s silly and CBD is not really a drug, but you don’t want to fun afoul of a overzealous TSA or customs agent. Proceed with caution, and research laws in your travel origin and destination.
Your mileage (pun intended) will vary when it comes to managing anxiety naturally. What works for one person can fall flat for another. If you’re currently on prescription medication, it’s important that you discuss options with your doctor before stopping medication or adding in natural treatments.
But whether or not you use prescription medication, it can be useful to approach your flight anxiety holistically. Options like aromatherapy and noise cancelling headphones won’t interact with medications and can be incredibly helpful.
Anxiety and Depression Association of America – How can I overcome my fear of flying?
Washington Post – Lots of Americans have a fear of flying. There are ways to overcome the anxiety disorder.