She’s back! Our lovely friend and mental health nurse, Bethany Turner, is here again on The Lily-Jo Project blog; sharing with our blog editor, Shelby, her top tips and advice for coping with travel anxiety.
The first time I went on a holiday with Bethany, I was surprised to learn that she struggled with a fear of flying. Not just a few butterflies during take off and landing, but a full-blown fear that would often cause symptoms of anxiety and panic days before a flight.
Now having traveled together a few times, I am always blown away at how she is able to consistently and confidently overcome her fear. With flights cheaper now than they’ve ever been, we have access to so many amazing destinations and I love how Bethany doesn’t let her fear get in the way of seeing the world!
In this interview, you can find her own tried and tested mental health tips for travel – a must read if you or someone you know struggles with travel anxiety or a fear of flying!
Q. Have you always had a fear of flying?
“I haven’t always had a fear of flying no – but I believe that’s probably because when I was younger I never really flew! I only travelled abroad on a couple of occasions with my family, and I remember that although I didn’t struggle like I do now, I still didn’t like it. I never really thought about it past this point, and it wasn’t until I became older and my friends started to talk about going on holiday that I developed a real fear of flying! Up until 2017, I haven’t travelled on a plane at all since being about 9 years old.”
Q. Has it gotten worse or better over time?
“Although I don’t feel that my fear has increased or decreased, I do feel that I know how to manage it better now that I have more experience flying. I still feel personally that this fear is as bad as it’s ever been, however the big thing for me is that I don’t let it stop me from travelling and I now use different techniques to help me manage this.”
Q. How do you personally cope with that anxiety and fear?
“I use a number of different things to help me cope with my fear when travelling, the main thing that I try to do is to keep myself occupied, entertained, and distracted.”
“I often seek reassurance off the people that I’m traveling with – although this is really an unhelpful behaviour. I ensure that I’ve got lots to keep me busy both before and during the flight – less time to think gives me less time to feel anxious! This is often in either the form of listening to music or watching something on my iPad. There are also a few helpful mindfulness apps that I have downloaded that help when I’m feeling really panicky.”
“I also try to think about the outcome of overcoming my fear and getting the flight – so the reward outweighs the problem. I think about what’s waiting for me at the other end and the fun that I will have during a holiday. Alongside this, I do utilise medication prescribed by my GP, although this is not a long term solution it can work for people alongside alternative coping strategies and as long as used correctly and responsibly it can be effective.”
Q. Do you have any other tips for readers who may also be struggling with a fear of flying?
“My top tips would be to make sure that you address the problem as soon as possible – don’t be afraid to access support, it can only help! There are local talking therapy services around every area that can provide treatment like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and other helpful talking therapies that work really well for overcoming fears and panic.”
“Alongside this, there are lots of brilliant self-help activities and materials on the internet, including phone apps like Headspace that encourage mindfulness and help with acute anxiety.”
“Don’t let your fear stop you from moving forward or booking a holiday, this will only cause you to miss out! Book an appointment to see your GP and take the step to get support, then just go for it! You may panic when you’re in the situation and I know it’s not easy to manage – I’m a mental health nurse and I still struggle to manage my own anxieties! But once you’ve done it once and realised that actually, you can get through it, it gets easier every time”
Q. What’s been your favorite holiday so far?
“It’s hard to decide! Since taking the step two years ago and deciding to try and tackle my fear by actually booking a holiday, I’ve had quite a few amazing trips! However, the main trip that stands out for me was Budapest last year. Myself and my boyfriend travelled for our first holiday for my birthday and the city is absolutely beautiful. We had a fab time and the experience of the holiday definitely made me glad to have booked the flight and manage my anxiety.”
(Snapshot from Beth’s trip to Budapest!)
Q. Where do you plan on travelling to next?
“I don’t have any future holidays planned at the moment – however I would love to go to Iceland next year ! I’m hoping that in the near future, I will be able to learn some more helpful coping strategies to manage my panic and anxiety so that I am able to go on a long haul flight! I’d love to travel to New York!”
Having obtained a Bachelor of Science degree at Keele University and qualifying as a Mental Health Nurse in 2016, Bethany has since worked on a Mental Health Ward within a large hospital and is currently working as a Community Mental Health Nurse in a Wellbeing Service.
Over the span of her career, she has cared for and worked with individuals suffering from common mental health difficulties such as anxiety and depression as well as more complex challenges including schizophrenia and bipolar. Some of her work activities include undertaking psychological assessments, determining appropriate treatments, and engaging in talking therapies with clients.
For more resources on coping with travel anxiety, we’ve found the following links that might be helpful:
- General Mental Health and Travel Advice
- 5 Reasons Why Travel is Good for your Mental Health
- Traveling with Mental Health Conditions
- Traveling with Eating Disorders
Many thanks again to Bethany for being so open and willing to share your story!
We hope everyone has had a fantastic summer!
Lots of love,
Shelby on behalf of The Lily-Jo Project Team