Plan B – Flying Anxiety

If just the thought of being 30,000 feet above the ground is enough to send your head spinning and make your heart race, we same same. Traveling by plane makes me want to jump out of my skin and run a thousand marathons simultaneously.

This wouldn’t be a problem if seeing the world wasn’t on my to-do list, but it is, so here we are. Now, what am I going to do about it?

Enter Plan B (Plan A being an anxious ball of wound tight nerves from the second my suitcase leaves my bedroom until the moment it returns back to its place in my bedroom).

This is my Plan B, feel free to take bits to help make your own Plan B.

But first, mindset.

I wasted a lot of time trying to conquer my fear instead of searching for ways to manage it. Flip the script in your head and ask yourself how can I manage this? instead of focusing all your energy on getting through it.

Changing your perspective (and giving yourself grace) will help you recognize what’s fueling your anxiety and what would ease it.

Here’s what didn’t work for me.

  1. Pretending I wasn’t getting on an airplane and waiting until the very last minute to pack. This did nothing but amp up my nerves because all of a sudden everything was happening all at once the night before my early a.m. flight.
  2. Essential oils. A coworker gave me her essential oils and a breath exercise to help put me in a calming space. I couldn’t manage to get outside of my own head long enough to grab the oils or want to do the breath exercise in the middle of the airport.
  3. Having the flight and my anxiety associated with the flight a topic for (what felt like) constant conversation isn’t helpful. If I don’t bring it up, please don’t talk about it.

Plan B:

  1. Focusing on one step (task) at a time. I start to panic about two weeks out, and when it happened I told myself “NO, focus on packing,” and then after I’m done packing I’ll focus on the car ride to the airport, then getting through TSA, etc. So far it’s worked.
  2. Beyoncé Homecoming playlist for takeoff and any other moment in between when I need reminding I’m a strong woman.
  3. New mantra: “I’m a badass” to say on repeat while the plane is climbing for cruising altitude (or as needed).
  4. Reality checking my anxiety (therapy gem) by reminding myself “stressing out is habit, so my brain is just following protocol and doing what I’ve trained it to do.” Also, my fear about flying is about crashing, so relating checking also means telling myself the safety FACTS about air travel.
  5. Listening to my Plane Anxiety meditation on Headspace. I did this last time I had to fly and it was HELPFUL. It teaches you how to ground yourself which came in extremely helpful during turbulence.

Reality Checking Info:

Americans have a 1 in 114 chance of dying in a car crash, according to the National Safety Council. The odds of dying in air and space transport incidents, which include private flights and air taxis, are 1 in 9,821. That’s almost three times better chances than you meeting your fate by choking on food.

You’re more likely to be struck by lightning with a one in 13,000 chance.

Aircraft go through a massive amount of testing before they even get off the ground, and there’s still plenty more after that. You can watch some of the most extreme tests in the video above from the Business Insider YouTube channel.

If there’s one thing you take away from these facts, make it this: turbulence isn’t a safety concern. Turbulence is, as commercial pilot Patrick Smith explains, a nuisance, but not a huge danger to you or the plane:

For all intents and purposes, a plane cannot be flipped upside-down, thrown into a tailspin, or otherwise flung from the sky by even the mightiest gust or air pocket. Conditions might be annoying and uncomfortable, but the plane is not going to crash. Turbulence is an aggravating nuisance for everybody, including the crew, but it’s also, for lack of a better term, normal. From a pilot’s perspective it is ordinarily seen as a convenience issue, not a safety issue.

And most importantly, never forget you’re not perfect because nobody is and chances are your anxiety will get the best of you, again. But with practice, you’ll get better at managing it.

Everything you have ever wanted, is sitting on the other side of fear.-3

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Blank Stare & Nod

My brain has been fried hard and served up on a stale piece of toast. The last five months have a re-reoccurring theme; lack of control and this constant wake up call has flared up my anxiety about an upcoming girl’s trip to Seattle. Is the universe teaching me to let go of control so that when my plane goes down at the end of March, I’ll be at peace? Anxiety is a bitch.

If I had to sum up the last four-ish/five months it would be placed in a folder labeled, Are You Fucking Kidding Me! The short of it is multiple car accidents, one less car, Hubs out of work for 7-weeks due to injury from said accident which equals limited dough, to family turmoil, some more family turmoil, and if I continue it would no longer be “the short of it.”

Point being, I’m going through some shit and it’s been hard to stay positive, which is super relatable because we’ve all been there, feeling like someone took out our brains and scrambled them up while we watched with no idea how to take the spatula away.

And because I have anxiety and panic attacks, what do I do? Think, think, and think some more, because that’s what I can control and what feels ‘routine’ for my brain to do. And of course, it’s not the healthy thinking it’s the let’s think about the worst possible scenario and keep thinking about the worst that can happen until I can feel it tightening my chest and wah-lah, panic!

The upside? I’m still here, practicing gratitude and trying my best. This is what matters. I am trying my best.

How do I combat my anxiety and panic? What has worked for me is taking deep breaths and focusing on each inhale and exhale, when I was younger I used to count them but now the simple in and out of breath calms me.

Why don’t I get a prescription? Addiction runs in my family, both with alcohol and pills, so I don’t want to tempt the beast.

What has also helped me in more recent times is focusing on my own health both physically and mentally, and that I don’t need to learn how to conquer my anxiety, just know how to live with it and how to give myself grace when I can’t keep a handle on it because sometimes…

The only thing I can muster is a blank stare and a nod, and that’s okay.

Everything you have ever wanted, is sitting on the other side of fear. (7).png

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Tony Robbins Mic Drop Part II

“Which parent did you crave love from the most…” and, “who did you have to be in order to get that person’s attention.”

This is the Tony Robbins mic drop. This question ALSO relates back to last week’s post about drowning in other’s opinion of me. I craved love the most from my Dad. I never felt loved for who I was, only for who I could be for him. The person I needed to be was someone who went above and beyond in every and any situation.

For example, one time, Dad needed somebody to help him paint the outside of the house underneath the deck. He convinced me I was a perfect size and fit for the job, so I agreed. Put on my painting clothes, climbed underneath the deck and crawled over to the spot where dad was hoisting down my paint bucket.

I got paint all over me by the time I was done. Instead of a thank you, I got criticized for how much paint ended up on me and a lecture about being better, faster, and smarter. Everything I did was expected to be perfect, there was no room for grace.

Nothing is good enough as is, you must always push for better and greater, otherwise, you’re a lazy bum who will amount to nothing. And this is a theme I carried throughout childhood and working on to this day to unwind because while it’s important to have the drive, it’s also important to celebrate your victories along the way. Otherwise, you live in a constant perpetual state that plows you through life without appreciating any fruit of your labor and leaves you always feeling, never good enough.

This constant pressure to know better, be better and do better, fueled my need to overachieve in all the things. What I didn’t know then but know now is that I was over-performing in hopes I’d get his attention. Tell me I’m doing a good job, please! Tell me you’re proud! Tell me I’m not a fuck up! 

And right about here is where the bomb exploded in my head like, oh shit. I’m still living and making decisions based off of the want to please my Dad and make him proud because I want to hear ‘”I’m proud of you,” or “I love you for you,” from him before it’s too late.

Jesus, I’m still living under his strict and harsh expectations for me and I haven’t lived under their roof in over a decade! Instead of asking myself how I want to proceed, etc. I’m operating out of habit and the underlying need to please Dad.

Well, hot. damn.

Once again, I need to get the extra voices out of my head and focus only on mine.

Let’s go back to last week’s post for a moment and bring these two together. I have anxiety because I’m trying to please those on the outside looking in and ignoring my own personal wants by burying them under endless mountains to climb/projects to finish.

By not paying attention to MY voice and worrying constantly about how I can show up for others causes massive anxiety because I feel split. Do I actually want to freelance? Do I actually want to have my own company one day? Do I actually want…

When people ask me what I want to do I simply tell them, I want to write books and make a difference. I realized I need to commit to making this real. I never commit to consistency with this blog or the content I publish on my Instagram. I’m not intentional and I keep it small by not sharing these blog posts on other platforms.

I feel less anxiety when I embrace every part of me that makes me, me. And if you need the reminder to love you for you, here it is: we need you as you are, you’re you for a reason.

Tony Ribbins Mic Drop quote on blog

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Grieving Death Feels Paralyzing

In between random bouts of crying and catching myself staring off into the distance, I haven’t been able to shake the funk Grandma’s death has left on me.

The overpowering need to cry is paralyzing sometimes and the emotions are too raw. This isn’t my first death, but it is the first death that’s affected me this deeply. So deep it’s unlocked a few boxes I’ve had cemented shut for a decade (at least).

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been somewhat angry at my mother and at this moment the details don’t matter. Some of my anger is justified and some of it not.

I haven’t lived near family (or had a true blue friend) for a long time, many miles and time zones separate us and if you would’ve asked me a month ago, I would’ve told you it was better that way — being alone felt like the best option, no family drama or obligation.

Then I flew to Buffalo to put my Grandmother to rest and saw everyone I hadn’t seen for years. It felt comfortable, relatively welcoming and nice to “be home,” but that same outsider feeling slowly crept through my skin, cryptically at first and more loudly a few weeks later.

I had prepared to give Grandma’s eulogy, but not for the emotional aftermath of seeing family I had’t seen in six long years.

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While writing Grandma’s eulogy (which was its own heart-wrenching journey) I came to the conclusion Grandma tried her best. We didn’t have the relationship I wanted and could rattle off a number of instances she handled poorly throughout my childhood, but despite all of her shortcomings and the long distance between us, she still showed up and it took her dying and my responsibility to give the eulogy to reflect on her.

And that bit makes me sick with guilt.

The grieving process is different for everyone, but her death has leaked into family truths I’ve been outrunning for a long time and it’s hard to put Pandora back in her box.

I’m left emotionally raw, confused and uncertain how to heal.

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