I cannot believe that in just a few hours, I will be on a plane on my way to Hong Kong. I am excited to explore the city but more than thrilled to visit Disneyland Hong Kong. While I’m writing this, it’s 12:36 a.m., and I have to be up by 3 a.m. because we have to be at the airport, and be on the plane by 7 a.m. Though it sounds hectic, it’s actually relaxing to have a few hours in the “morning” to write a blog post. I am very grateful for this opportunity to travel abroad, though, I have been very anxious about going somewhere unfamiliar.
I’ve had quite a few panic attacks when thinking about my study abroad experience. It is all because change scares me a lot. The thing I worry most about is not getting to class on time because I am in such a big city, and the academic shuttle ride to class could take up to forty-five minutes. I also worry about getting lost. I worry about the math class that I’m taking, and not having the right materials for my photography class. There’s also a lingering thought in the back of my mind that it will be the ultimate struggle to make friends. I also worry about getting ill and not having enough medication.
Most of these thoughts seem irrational when I’m looking at them on the computer screen. You may even think that they’re irrational because, in a way, they are. But when someone is struggling with anxiety and panic attacks, everything seems rational–including the irrational thoughts. Though with each panic attack, I have found a new way to, not necessarily avoid a future attack, but cope with new ones in the future.
Purchase something from home to remind you of where you came from. While on my Target run two weeks ago, I stopped by the home decor section and found this adorable wax warmer. It basically serves as a candle, but instead, uses a light to melt scented wax. It is much safer than using an open flame to make a room smell nice. It is also dorm-friendly, so I’ll be taking this with me, and plugging it in the nearest outlet in my dorm room. It shaped like a deer, I love deers, and it’s calming because it reminds me of the deers around my home.
Plan to wear something comfortable (and that you feel confident in) during flights and long travel days. I’m pretty sure that it’s just me, but there’s truly no better feeling than wearing something that is comfy and cute. I actually like wearing new outfits while traveling. If I have to wear something for a 16-hour flight, (yes, I know.) then I want to feel amazing in it. My lightweight sweatshirt is so comfy and I love the color. The sweatshirt is from Calvin Klein and my leggings are from Forever21. I highly recommend not wearing skinny jeans on a plane, and instead, wearing leggings or sweatpants for maximum comfort during a flight. The more comfortable you feel, the less likely you will have a panic attack. For me, when my clothes are tight, I feel trapped, and then everything begins to spiral.
Make sure you have all of your documents the night before, so that you won’t have to scramble the morning of your flight. Before we headed to the airport, the evening of our trip, we stopped by FedEx to make multiple photocopies of our passport and other important documentation. This is probably one of the most important things to do, especially if disorganization makes you anxious. I am one of those people. If I can’t find something, I get hot flashes, my chest gets tight, and it’s hard to breathe. This is all because I think that I’ve lost something crucial. I recommend making at least three copies of important documents so that if you do lose a copy, you have a backup plan.
Don’t be embarrassed to take a comfort object. Listen, my pal Losto and I have been through a lot. He’s pretty much been there through every panic attack that I’ve had. He’s seen a lot. He’s seen the world. I am not ashamed to have him under my arm while walking through the airport. If you need to have a comfort object, (whether it’s a stuffed animal, a blanket, a pillow, or even an actual pet) by all means carry it shamelessly. If you know that something will immediately calm you down, just by holding it, take it. Don’t be embarrassed. You will thank yourself later if you find yourself in a stressful situation.
Make a playlist of your favorite songs and bring your headphones. Listen to music at any point during your day. Whenever you have a little free time, (maybe during a layover or while other passengers are boarding) pull out your device and plug in. I find this especially helpful during take-off. I turn on some music and jam out. Then, my mind is taken off of the thoughts of what could possibly go wrong during the flight or how constricting the seatbelt is. My go-to song for when I’m feeling anxious is Black Spider-Man by Logic. For some reason, I am always calmed when I listen to it.
Don’t forget your medication, herbal therapy, etc. Like the documentation tip, this one is also very important. I started using herbal therapies about three weeks ago. There’s a health foods store in walking distance from my house. I went inside after having another panic attack and asked an employee what was the best (and cheapest) anxiety-relief option. She brought me to Urban Moonshine Joy Tonic, which is currently on Amazon for $10, and it has been the best herbal solution to coping. There’s a lot of aromatherapy type things in this small bottle that instantly makes you relax. All I do is spritz this twice under my tongue when I’m feeling a panic attack coming on, drink a glass of water, and then do a breathing exercise. In a matter of minutes, I am relaxed and able to focus. I will warn you though, the taste is horrible. It does not taste like candy. It tastes very disgusting, has an aftertaste, and puts a slight burning sensation in your throat. But, it does provide quick relief. (*I would not use this every day or with prescribed medications.*)
If the post got a little wordy, here is the link to the video version of this post. While you’re there, please subscribe. I post videos on Thursdays. I also shared three pictures from this post on my Instagram, so feel free to check those out as well.
Comment down below what you do to keep yourself calm, while traveling.
Thank you so much for reading!