This past weekend, my drug-free health approach and writing collided.
For a couple of years, my husband has been the only person who could convince me to board an airplane. He helps me have new experiences by reminding me that it will be worth it. Though I’ve regretted a couple of those trips in the moment, I’m really glad that he has an expectation I will get better, because it helps me to continue thinking that way too.
He convinced me to take a vacation last week that involved four hours on a plane there and back, and I probably only slept one full night for the two weeks leading up to the trip.
Like I said, I can’t/don’t take medications of any kind anymore (long story), and I try to avoid using most of my essential oils on the plane since I know that can overwhelm other passengers. And I know what that feels like, because other people’s lotions and perfumes seriously overwhelm my sensitive nervous system.
Before the trip, I researched how to overcome flight anxiety…again…like I have many, many times before, but this time I really pushed myself to understand the thought patterns that were keeping the cycle up. I eventually concluded that the best approach in this case was…distraction.
I made plans to enjoy myself, and to actually have fun instead of just praying to make it off the plane without losing my ever loving mind. I wasn’t going to overthink it, because from what I can tell, the biggest cause of flight anxiety is actually the fear of panicking.
That’s either ironic, or cruel.
On the first flight, I did GREAT. It was the easiest flight I’ve been on in ages.
But as usual, during the return flight I was insanely stressed. Reading, listening to music, and watching movies was not helping.
So I decided to write, because then I would be using my mind, not trying to convince it to calm down. I worked on my NaNoWriMo project for about 1,000 words, and then I started a humorous short story about freaking out on a plane. I haven’t finished it, but I’ll probably share it here when it’s done.
The result was AMAZING. While I was writing, the clenching, cramping pain that wrenches my whole core when I’m stressed like that significantly let up and my writing was exceptionally good for rough drafting. I really enjoyed writing about what I was experiencing from a more humorous light, and like my other short stories, I started with a simple real-life experience (husband convincing a scared flier to go on a trip) and then just let my imagination shred it up and put it back together with an abundance of drama*.
Writing definitely got me through the flight without a full on panic attack, and helped me to feel less physical symptoms of stress. I’m so excited about this discovery, and from now on I’m going to make sure I have a phone or tablet to write, and a back up notebook in case those aren’t working.
So if you didn’t know that NaNo could potentially help with flight anxiety, there ya go.
*Rabbit trail: Sometimes I worry that people will read those short stories and think I’m basing them off of actual feelings or perceptions, but I just REALLY enjoy taking things to hilarious extremes when I write. I love watching people squirm with an uncomfortable presentation of my character, and then sigh and laugh with relief when the twist shows the whole picture. My favorite short story that I’ve written is titled The Other Woman, and as you can imagine, it leaves the reader shifting in their seat – but only until the very last line.