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Catastrophisng

I have always hated airports, I think it is partly because I am not keen on flying, however the airport itself has always felt a little bit too much for me. I feel an overwhelm of all my senses, the noise, the people, the digital displays and the fear. I often feel paralysed by the requirements of overseas travel. I feel I will forget something and then I will be standing, fumbling through my bag or my phone with a queue of people behind me and of course the more I panic the harder it is for me to find what I am looking for.


Over the years I have managed this fear by keeping lists, a pro forma for the things I will need each and every time I travel, what to pack, my paperwork, passport, airport parking, transfers etc. These lists have helped me to keep a clear head and have a structure which has felt safe and repeatable.


I flew last week, just to Spain, a trip I have taken many times before. This is the first time I have flown since the beginning of the pandemic and it felt different.. it felt different before I even got to the airport. It felt different as I was filling in the Spanish health forms and downloading the NHS covid19 QR codes, it felt different in my head. In reality not much had changed, but in my head it felt massive. It felt like I was doing a whole new thing rather than just slightly amending a known and well trodden path.


I was anxious about the physical check points, would I be in the right queue at the right time with the right QR code and paperwork? In the end I wasn't and nor was any one else! So I moved to the correct line to fill in the correct paperwork (along with half a plane load of my fellow travellers) and then I left the airport and took a transfer to my hotel, just as I had done many times before.


Reflecting afterward I realised that I can't always be prepared for every eventuality, I can't pre know what I don't know! I do know, however, that I have a tendency to maximise the fear and minimise my capacity. On the return flight I was even able to assist another passenger fill in their paperwork and get to the correct checkpoint.


I guess I just need to remember to have a little faith in myself and avoid maximising and minimising so I can keep things right sized.




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