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What is stress?
Stress is defined as a state of mental or emotional strain resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances. Stress in general is a simple emotion that can help us survive in critical situations and can also help us stay productive in our jobs through things like project deadlines and customer demand.
When we do new things for the first time, there is a level of stress that may arise. An interesting thing to note however, is the fact that the brain can’t always distinguish nervousness/stress from excitement. So in hindsight, I was likely excited to begin my vacation, but nervous to fly alone. Interesting, right?
For this years trip, I was flying from Adelaide, Australia to Queenstown, New Zealand with a quick stop over in Sydney. If you’ve never flown alone before, I’ve listed a few things that helped me regulate stress so I could fully enjoy my vacation!
3-5 days before, I began packing. Usually, I have a list of things I need. In the end, I started with basics and worked my way up – no list needed! First up: underwear, thermals and socks! I then tried on all the outfits I planned in my head and took photos for reference. I put all these items on one side of my bedroom when they were ready to be packed. I then packed toiletries, electronics (charger cables, laptop, hairdryer, straightener) and big jackets.
The night before, I laid out my “airplane outfit” so I could change quickly and get out the door. Packing early ensures we can get up and go, minus any last-minute panic-packing!
I triple checked my luggage to make sure that all my heavy and non-essential items were going to be checked-in. If an item wasn’t going to be used on the flight or in-between flights, it was going into my luggage bag! Once my baggage was checked, I knew that was one less thing I needed to worry about!
Essentials for me, included a book to read, extra layers in case I get cold and my crossbody which would be stored in my carry-on. I dedicated one section of my crossbody to hold my itinerary and passport. That way, those documents were separate from miscellaneous items like perfume and earphones.
The stop-over in Sydney required a shuttle-bus ride. As soon as I landed, I got my next ticket out and kept it wedged in my passport for ease-of-access, once I got to the gate.
Being organised as much as possible minimises questions of whether or not we have everything we need.
On my flight to Sydney, I sat next to a lovely lady named Kylee (@kyleeeann) and we got to chatting. It made me feel better knowing I wasn’t the only one flying alone (although rationally, I know many people do). We spoke about our plans, what we do in our daily lives and even shared our social media ventures! I know it can be awkward sitting next to complete strangers if you’re used to travelling with friends or family, but you never know who you may meet and what you might learn through these short encounters!
Kylee tapped me on the shoulder to look out the window. The sun was rising. It was a beautiful mix of orange, yellow and navy blue. Waking up at 3AM was difficult and as scary as it was to be flying alone, there are always pockets of goodness and beauty if you look for it! So if you’re awake enough, look out the window!
During my stopover, I only had 1.5 hour between flights (which in hindsight, wasn’t long enough). I rushed to the loo and then ran to the other side of the airport to catch a shuttle bus to the international terminal. Once I got to the bus line, I realised I was very close to missing my connecting flight. Talk about stressed! I fixed my eyes on a spot on the wall and breathed deeply. I slowed my mind down. Yes, I was still focused on the ticking clock but I tried my best to intentionally calm myself and regulate my breathing. I did not have control over how fast the bus would arrive, so there was no point in stressing over it. I learned a lot about myself in terms of “control” and how it feels to let it go.
I love a good, creamy, non-dairy coffee. However, I opted for water for both flights. Although coffee was satisfying, it would exacerbate my nervousness. For those who know me, know I enjoy a good bite to eat, so I made sure to have breakfast and lunch to keep me fuelled for the day ahead. I listened to my body and that’s something I’m proud of myself for! In the last few months, I’ve found it difficult to distinguish hunger, fullness and dehydration. If you have had moments or days like this too, it is time to listen to your body. It is so important to treat our bodies well.
I hope you found these tips helpful for your next adventure! Stress is normal. If we find ways to regulate it, stress can be beneficial for productivity and organisation.