Even before the pandemic, being in an airport or airplane was never particularly relaxing. And as air travel resumes on a large scale this summer, it might feel even more stressful and unfamiliar.
For many of us, the past 16 months have had basic repetitive routines. COVID-19 has changed the look and general routine of airports, making it potentially more difficult to ease back in. When we have multiple demands on our attention and cognitive ability, it cognitively depletes you, and you start losing your energy. There’s also the fact that you will be in a sea of strangers after more than a year of limited contact with those outside your social circle. This can increase your irritability as you wait in long lines, grab a coffee, or sit at a boarding gate around people who may do things like cough and sneeze.
How can you mentally prepare to be in an airport and airplane again?
Though entering these less-familiar and crowded places has the potential to spike stress levels, experts say there are ways to regulate your emotions and travel anxiety before you get to the airport.
Start practicing good mental health hygiene before the trip.
You wouldn’t expect your body to be able to lift 200 pounds all of a sudden, so why do we expect our brains to keep its cool and its ability to regulate under new and stressful situations.
To build up your ability to cope with stressors, start supporting your mental health once you’ve booked your trip, or even prior to this. Incorporate some of the following supportive activities; such as eating nutritious foods, doing exercise you enjoy, practicing self-care, scheduling in regular leisure activities, connecting with loved ones and spending time outside to soak up sunlight.
At least a few days prior to the trip to the airport, pack what you can of your suitcase and carry-on. Read up on the things you’re not allowed to bring on the plane. This can reduce your travel anxiety and stress ahead of time and help take some load off on the travel day.
Rehearse going to and through an airport
The processes beginning from; how you are getting to the airport, when you enter an airport until you board a plane, so you’re prepared for the “unusual” requirements, like removing your face mask when showing your driver’s license with your boarding pass or removing your shoes at the security screen. Did any of you watch Phil Mickelson win the PGA golf? Before each stroke he visualized the stroke. When I was scuba diving, I would sit quietly and visualize the entry. Thinking it through will help calm you a great deal. Imagine what is the worst thing that can happen, and of course rarely does, then you can go with the flow.
Ready set lets go…