When you are afraid of flying, you invariably get many restrictions imposed upon you. The fear of flying becomes a major handicap in that; it severely limits your business pursuits and career promotions, personal relationships, not to mention, your recreational activities. If you have the extreme fear of flying, know that you are not alone. Hundreds of thousands of people are afraid of air turbulence and plane crashes, and this fear has been prevalent for as long as airplanes have existed. But you need not suffer. There are some proven ways to cope with the fear of flying.
Try these and have a safe and happy flight!
1. Understand that your fear is completely irrational
Most people with the fear of flying phobia realize that their fear is completely unfounded. Many even know that statistics have proven, time and again, that air travel is the safest mode of travel. In most cases, people who are afraid of flying are actually afraid that they will lose control and embarrass themselves on the flight. It helps if you can make a list of things you might do that could embarrass you. It could be things like shaking, or loss of bladder control, or screaming, crying, etc. Then ask yourself just how many times you have done that when flying. Journaling your thoughts can also help you see the irrationality behind them.
2. What exactly are you afraid of?
The very fact that you want to overcome your fear tells you a great deal about it and is also the solution that will take you out of your fear. Ask yourself exactly what you are afraid of. Perhaps you think that you will crash. Know that very few airlines have crashed so far. Perhaps you are afraid of bumps and turbulence. These are mainly due to air-pockets. Understand that air travel is much like ‘waves’ so the currents are bound to cause turbulence and bumps. Once you know the cause, it is quite likely that you will feel less frightened.
3. Find out the source of your discomfort
In many cases, people feel scared of flying mainly because of the discomfort. An airplane is an uncomfortable place especially if you are flying in the economy class. It has cramped up spaces, no leg room, and seats placed close to one another. This can easily lead to claustrophobia.
If that is the source of discomfort, then you could try flying business class if you can afford it. If possible, ask for the front seats which have more legroom than the ones behind. The front of the plane is also where you’d experience less turbulence and bumps compared to the backside. You can also choose to book an aisle seat instead of a window seat which tends to make you more uncomfortable and will also allow you to walk up and down the aisle or go to the bathroom frequently. These simple tips can help you get over the fear of flying claustrophobia.
4. Breathing exercises
A surefire way to overcome the fear of flying turbulence is to breathe in and out deeply. Breathe to a count of 8 seconds, then hold your breath for 6 seconds, and finally breathe out to a count of 4-5 seconds. Do this several times until your anxiety eases and you feel calm and peaceful. Focus on the tiny ‘pause’ between the in and out breaths.
5. Sensitize yourself gradually
The best way to deal with any fear is to face it. You can start by watching a clip about flying, and progress to watching a film shot entirely on a plane. You can also write and talk about your flying to a friend or a therapist. Next, you can try a flight simulator to gradually expose yourself to your fear. Finally, you can progress to taking a short flight of just an hour or so to desensitize yourself and feel good about yourself. Later on, once you are fully ‘cured’ and have overcome the fear, you can go on longer flights.
6. Get informed
Before you fly, prepare yourself. Read up all that you can about the kind of plane you are getting on. Read the statistics about it. If you have time, find out how planes work, how they fly. Get to know the sounds inside a flight. You will be hearing several sounds like wheels retracting, wing flaps turning up and down, and so on. So it is a good idea to know these sounds so you won’t get scared.
7. Get good rest
No matter what your flight timing is, make sure you get good rest. To sleep well, take a warm bath, listen to some soothing music, or try to meditate before sleeping in order to calm your anxiety. Healthy and restful sleep will definitely calm you down.
8. Dress comfortably
Wear comfortable, non-restrictive clothing so that you feel confident about yourself and also feel comfortable among people.
9. Relax before boarding
Arrive at the airport with plenty of time to spare so that you can relax a bit at the boarding gate. It is a good idea to visit the bathroom before boarding. You can utilize the time to observe your fellow passengers, read something light or humorous, or simply take a nap or meditate.
10. Talk to the crew
If you are traveling alone, speak to the crew about your fear of flying. Experienced flight crew members are aware that many passengers experience difficulty while flying. You need not be embarrassed by this condition. Know that there are many who suffer from this fear. They might even help change your seat to the front of the plane where there are less turbulence and bumps.
11. Use the in-flight entertainment
Listening to music on the headphones or watching some in-flight movies or episodes can also help you distract yourself from negative or fearful thoughts. It is also a good idea to track your flight. You can use the flight map display to see which phase of the flight you are in take-off, cruising, landing, etc.
12. Use medication
In case you have an extreme fear of flying, medication can help. Speak to your physician for a prescription for low-dose anti-anxiety medication. This can calm your nerves; reduce palpitations and shortness of breath. However, many of these drugs come with side effects such as drowsiness. So, opt for homeopathic remedies instead which are milder and devoid of side effects.
We hope these methods help you cope with your fear of flying.