I've not always had a fear of flying. In fact when I was younger I thought nothing of jumping on any size plane without a second thought.
But during a long haul flight to the USA with my family in 2012, I had a rather unfortunate mid air full blown anxiety attack. It was not pretty and it was certainly not fun. It's also rather embarrassing when the flight crew embrace you as you leave the plane and applaud and say , "Yay, you did it!"
And based on that incident I didn't want to set foot on another plane for the rest of my life.
Fast forward to September 2017 and an opportunity popped up for me to spend three weeks in America with my sister and our teenage girls. I didn't want to pass up the opportunity but it meant seven flights in three weeks.
And my panic went into overdrive the closer the holiday loomed.
I have always been incredibly proactive when it comes to my anxiety. Anxiety has been hanging around on and off over the past decade. But I never let it rule me or define me.. and I always am open to anything to help combat the anxious feelings.
In the lead up to my America holiday I did a whole heap of things to prepare myself mentally and emotionally for the flight:
√ I saw my incredible psychologist who specialises in phobias and anxiety. He gave me a run down on the mechanics and aerodynamics of an airplane and all the practical logistics and facts and figures about flying. He also told me to ENJOY not ENDURE the flight.
√ With my psychologist away at one stage I saw his business partner, who had a totally different approach and led me through many visualisations and mindfulness practices to help calm the mind.
√ I saw my beautiful Bowen Therapist to help ease some tension head aches. Bowen is a gentle therapy for physical pain and also works on releasing any emotional blocks/trauma from the body.
√ I saw my GP and armed myself with every medication possible - antibiotics in case I got a cold/infection, nausea tablets in case I felt sick on the plane and a low dose anxiety medication. It was all "just in case" but it made me feel more comfortable knowing I had those medications to use if needed.
√ I did a free online fear of flying course run by an American pilot. You can find the details here.
√ I continued practicing mindfulness.
And then I rediscovered essential oils.
It was like the oils were the final piece in my puzzle! During my holiday I relied on,
- Cheer Touch
- Immune Blend - Frankincense, Lemon, Tea Tree, OnGuard
How I used each oil
PEPPERMINT - my life saver. I made myself a little inhaler stick with a few drops of Peppermint Oil on the cotton wick and breathed on that sucker during every take off. It helped keep my airways nice and clear but it also gave me something to focus on and forced me to keep my breathing slow and steady - vital for those with anxious thoughts who need to slow down their breathing. I believe it also helped me with jetlag.
BALANCE - a beautiful grounding blend of oils that I used that on the soles of my feet each day to help me feel grounded and balanced and dropped onto my wrists when needed.
CHEER TOUCH - this blend is beautiful and is made up of oils such as Orange, Clove, Lemon Myrtle, Nutmeg, Vanilla, Ginger, Star Anise and Cinnamon. I took along the roller ball "Touch" version of this blend which again meant it was ready to roll directly onto my skin as it was already diluted with a carrier oil. This one I rolled onto the backs of my hands every single day - often multiple times a day. It is uplifting, cheerful and promotes happy feelings. My niece would often ask if she could have some too and she now has her own "happy roller".
This blend still reminds me of New York and even when I smell it now, it sends me straight back to feeling like we are in New York and on the subway! Those aromatic anchors are working well for me with this oil.
AND MY IMMUNE BLEND - I made myself a little 10ml roller bottle with Frankincense, Tea Tree, Lemon and On Guard (our protective blend) and diligently rolled this onto my feet every morning and night.
ELEVATION - I just used this purely because of it's aroma. It was cheerful, happy and smelled so good. It's still one of my favourite mood boosting oils. I used a few drops in my hands or sniffed this one straight from the bottle when I felt I needed a happy boost!
So how did I go?
I did it!
Arriving at Sydney airport for our first flight, I did have a moment where I announced that I wasn't going now. Seriously, I wanted to run far away and go home again. But I pulled it together, relied on my oils and once I conquered that first flight (only a short flight as we had a stop over in Auckland), I knew I would be okay.
Oh I am still not a fan of the take off but each flight did get easier.
And there was one moment, on our way home - our last flight after our stop over again in Auckland where I thought, I am actually ENJOYING this flight. Enjoying it! I never expected that outcome!
I've since travelled back to the US and even conquered the long haul flight from Dallas to Sydney ..a mammoth 17 hours.. and I was well equipped and actually enjoyed the flights! Who would have thought!!