Some people love jet-setting across the globe, but flying is also a cause of great stress for many people. The fear of flying is among the top most common fears, and causes millions of people great anxiety. It’s no wonder then that “how to conquer the fear of flying” is also among the top Google searches.
Flying induced anxiety can manifest for many reasons: one may be especially afraid of planes crashes, another may be worried about experiencing a panic attack on board, some people may be claustrophobic and so be uncomfortable with having nowhere to go once on the plane, and still others might be concerned about plane hijackings and terrorism.
These fears are understandably very hard to cope with initially, but help does exist. It is important to receive help so that the fear doesn’t affect your quality of life. Travel is a powerfully fulfilling and rewarding thing. It would be a shame to miss out on opportunities and never see the places you dream of because of your phobia. For some people the phobia even starts interfering with work when travel is a large part of the job. No matter the main reason or trigger, you could try these simple but effective techniques to conquer the fear of flying.
Preparation is Key
Part of overcoming this fear is having the right frame of mind beforehand. It is so much simpler and better to enter a stressful situation already feeling calm and focused. It’s easy to see how you are more likely to be able to deal with confronting your fear with a positive attitude, than if you had to get on the plane in an already panicked state!
There are quite a few ways you can ensure that you are in a positive and strong headspace before the flight. Make sure that all your packing is done before the time – you can have a checklist to help you with that. Ensure that you have all your necessary documents and funds sorted and ready. Do this well in advance so that in the event of any delays, it doesn’t interfere with your flight. Any other arrangements like your transport to the airport should also be finalized ahead of time.
Arriving at the airport with a good amount of time to spare is very important too. Rushing around in a panicked and flushed state is not good for your anxieties! When you arrive early you have time to go to the airport lounge, order a healthy and energising meal, and take time out to relax and focus your thoughts on positive things.
Bring Comforts Along
There is absolutely no shame in needing some home comforts to help you through your journey – so make sure that they are packed in! This could be anything really. If you have a favourite book that always works to distract you or put a smile on your face, then bring it along.
Some people have “good luck charms” that they bring along with them. It doesn’t matter if you believe in luck or not – you can still wear your favourite pair of socks or a bracelet that reminds you of your family and friends. These objects bring happy and positive memories to surface and so they help us feel more comfortable and relaxed.
Another powerful tool is an MP3 player loaded with feel good songs and meditation tracks. Music is a powerful mood enhancer that can always comfort you through the most stressful of times. Choosing light, upbeat music is best, but you know what tunes get your mood up.
Meditation audios are also wonderful. Listening to these tracks before you board the plane and during the journey can help you focus and help ease your mind. Just remember that some airlines may not allow electronic devices like MP3 players to be used during lift off and landings.
Practise Relaxation Techniques
Relaxation techniques are little exercises you can do to focus and minimise anxieties during stressful times. These techniques include breathing exercises, mediation, visualization, stretches/yoga poses, and positive mantras among others.
There are a number of breathing exercises that you can research and try. The main purpose of these exercises is to be aware of your breath and how it relaxes your body. Try to practise two or three different breathing exercises before your flight so that you know which works the best for you.
Meditation and visualization practises can go hand and hand with each other. You can practise this in your seat and any time during the flight. Take some deep breathes in and feel the tension leave from your muscles. Clear your mind of all negative thoughts and focus on just one positive, calming thought. Try to keep your focus for a minute, then two minutes, then five and so on. Within 10 – 15 minutes you should definitely feel more relaxed!
Positive mantras can be any phrase that helps centre you. Focus on positive words like “can” or “do” rather than their negative forms. “I know how to conquer my fear of flying” or “I am calm, focused, and positive” are great examples of mantras that you can quietly repeat to yourself when you are feeling a little nervous.
Circulation for Calmness
Sitting in one place feeling anxious never helps, and doing this on a plane is no different. You can break the claustrophobic element of your anxieties by simply leaving your seat, and stretching your legs by going for a short walk – even if it’s just to the bathrooms! It will get your blood circulating again and also give you a change of scenery, no matter even how slight.
You may even find yourself distracted by some good conversation or a cute baby during your walk if you are lucky!
Medications Do Help
If you are truly terrified and don’t feel as though any of the above methods will work for you during your flight, you can always speak to your GP or therapist about some medication – namely sedatives – that you can take with you before the flight, and during the flight when needed.
The most common medication that’s prescribed for flying related anxieties is valium. It’s important that you don’t just try to get some sedatives over the counter, but actually consult with your doctor. Consider any other medications you are taking, and definitely do not mix your sedatives with alcohol. Also stick to the correct dose at all times.
Be Proud of Confronting Your Fear
Do you know what the greatest part of conquering your fear of flying is? That you are actually about to board a plane (or have boarded a plane) and confront that fear! The scariest part is over! You have done it, and that is something that should make you feel incredibly proud. You did not allow your fear to stop you from accomplishing this feat, even though it wasn’t easy at all.
You may feel like only half the battle has been won, and that you still have a whole flight and landing to get through, but you can also rest assured that if you got through one hard part of it all, you can also get through the rest. You have your coping methods in place, and now you have confronted your fear. You are brave, so feel good about that!