It’s the start of a brand new month and that means a new topic. Since I’m going on holidays (cruise to Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Norway), I decided to make the topic this month all about vacations. This is also your warning that on July 4th, I have to take a cyber break – WIFI is a fortune on the cruise ship, so for two weeks, I won’t be able to blog. Fear not, as soon as I get back, I’ll be back to writing. I think to follow Oz’s advice about stress, taking a cyber break (just buying a package so that I can email home) is just what the doctor ordered. I realized that I’ve taken exactly one holiday day this year (April 15th to celebrate my mother’s big birthday). I’m feeling burned out and need to do the one thing that is guaranteed to make me excited about life again – travel!
Today is about one of the first steps of taking a trip – and it’s not packing. It’s flying. Why am I writing about a little cruise on a 767? Well, I’m TERRIFIED of flying – no matter how many times I’ve flown the friendly skies – I feel like crying the minute I step on the air craft. It’s one of my two phobias (bugs if you don’t remember are the other) and no matter how much I tell myself that I’m more likely to die in a car crash than a plane crash, it still doesn’t reassure me. I have my routine – I get to my seat on the plane, I tap the floor three times to make sure it feels solid (silly I know). I pull out a People magazine and as the plane takes off, I try to distract myself by doing the crossword puzzle. I forgot the most important part – I take two of the ten Ativan pills that I allow myself every year (I get a prescription for ten pills a year to cover off all of my travel). It calms me down so that if there is turbulence, I don’t really care. My biggest fear is take off – I hate when the plane slowly taxis to the runway. A feeling of dread comes over me because I know what’s next – 100,000 tonnes of steel, people and luggage racing down the runway and then the lift off where the plane banks right or left, or both as it levels off to go to the end destination.
Many people LOVE flying and think that the take off is the best thing ever – for me, it’s a frightening, yet necessary evil. I don’t want to recommend Ativan, but it’s the only thing that’s worked to make air travel bearable. I don’t always sleep from it, but it allows me the calm that I need to at least read a magazine or watch a movie. I’d rather not take anything so I checked to see if Dr. Oz had any suggestions, and I found some tips on Sharecare.com from Jill Grimes, MD (the site is partly owned by Oz – my comments are in bold):
- Plan ahead — create a diversion packet for yourself with an engaging book, music, or DVD. OK thanks – that’s what people magazine is for – plus listening to music helps.
- Get noise-canceling headphones (or at least good earplugs). It’s amazing how when you can close your eyes and not hear the plane noises, you can relax much more easily. I’m not afraid of noises – I’m afraid of crashing
- Avoid stimulants like caffeine and decongestants — no need to ramp up your heart rate before you even get on the plane. True for coffee – I’ll avoid it – I no longer drink Diet Coke, so that’s not a problem. Tea does make me feel calmer though
- If you have the luxury of time before you travel, consider biofeedback, hypnosis, or meditation training. Maybe I’ll try hypnosis – I don’t think meditation will help me since I can barely do it
- You may want to talk with your doctor. What can he or she offer? For long flights, your doctor may prescribe a sleeping pill. Some patients do very well with medicines that simply control your heart rate, such as metoprolol (a beta-blocker). Others with more intense anxiety respond well to a rapid and short-acting sedative. Ativan has been a huge help for me, but I’ve actually decided to only take it for long haul flights. I really recommend talking to your doctor and being really sure that this is your last resort.
I wish I could say that there is an easy cure for a phobia, but for me, there hasn’t been. I am open to trying hypnosis though. I’ll let you know if I ever do it. Maybe I’ll even blog about it.
Today is July 1st – Canada’s birthday! I am proud and grateful to live in such an amazing country. I’m a third generation Canadian and I don’t identify myself by my grandparents’ homeland. They escaped from Russia and Lithuania so I only bring it up if people ask me about my background. They knew and appreciated living in a country where they could make a life for themselves and enjoy religious freedom. I’m not saying it was perfect for them, but with every generation, it gets better. We had World Pride in Toronto last week, and people came from all over the world without incident and even capping the festivities with a real rainbow. I may be straight, but I fully support and am proud that Toronto hosted this amazing event. Canada, for the most embraces and accepts everyone – and for that I am grateful. There is always room for improvement, but today, I’d just like to be grateful that I live in the best country in the world.