I Remind Myself That Being On A Plane Is The Safest Place I Could Possibly Be
Its true: while youre sat on a flight and freaking out about how dangerous it feels, youre pretty much in the safest place you could possibly be. Safer than crossing the street, taking a bath, playing a video game, or walking down the stairs.
Youre so ridiculously safe on a plane even though it doesnt feel like it.
Practice Deep Breathing And Relaxation Exercises
Weve all been told to take a deep breath during a time of great fear and anxiety. Sometimes it can feel as though the person telling us to do this merely wants us to stop. But experts support the benefits of breathing exercises to calm anxiety. Deep breathing, as a way to relax and release internal pressure, is something we instinctively do, Schaub says. He recommends taking deep, long breaths whenever feelings of anxiety arise. Make sure to engage your chest and your abdomen. On the inhale, fully expand your lungs by letting your belly rise. On the exhale, slightly pull your abdomen back toward your spine to push all the air out, he says. While a racing mind speeds up our breathing, consciously slowing down our inhalation and exhalation has a calming effect on our entire nervous system.
Learn More About Your Fear
This first step can be the hardest one, but its also absolutely necessary. You cant overcome a fear that remains hidden in the dusty regions of your subconscious. You must face it. When you turn your face toward a person, you see that person and learn what he looks like and how he is acting. When you turn toward your fear , you notice things about your fear that you didnt know before. This awareness helps you overcome it.
To help yourself face your fears and anxiety, try keeping a journal over a period of two or three weeks. Record any patterns you notice. Do your hands turn clammy and your stomach clenches when you hear the doorbell? Do you experience more symptoms of anxiety in the morning or the evening? What do you tend to do when your fears arise? Jot down anything that seems significant. Transferring your fear patterns and symptoms into writing can help demystify them. They are no longer so big and insurmountable.
Most importantly, learning all about your fear gives you an idea of how to counter it.
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Aviophobia As A Result Of Related Phobias
Often, a fear of flying is not due to the flying itself but stems from related factors, such as:
- a fear of being in an enclosed space
- a fear of crowds
- a fear of heights
- a fear of hijacking or terrorism
Regardless of the cause of the fear, people may experience the following physical symptoms before and during a flight:
- clouded thinking
For some, even the prospect of planning future air travel can trigger these symptoms. This can limit leisure options and may be a problem for those who need to travel for business.
Because the causes of aviophobia are diverse, specific treatment options are needed to address the particular fear involved. Below are some different strategies used to combat a fear of flying .
There are a number of practical ways to reduce the fear associated with flying these include:
What Are The Symptoms Of Aerophobia
If you have aerophobia, you might avoid flying at all costs. This could mean missing family vacations or refusing to travel for work. You might insist on other modes of transportation, such as cars, buses or trains even if theyre less convenient than flying. If you have aerophobia, you might also avoid movies, books or news stories that relate to air travel. Or you may become obsessed with learning about security measures at airports and on planes.
Its also possible for people with aerophobia to have panic attacks before or during a flight. Symptoms may include:
- Upset stomach or indigestion .
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Study Your Plane Crash History
It might sound counterintuitive, but arming yourself with knowledge of past aviation incidents might help you feel more at ease on a flight. Try watching a show like Mayday , which educates viewers about plane crashes it tells you what went wrong, why it went wrong, and how the industry has changed to prevent such an incident from happening again.
You can also watch videos of all the tests planes must undergo before being approved for flight, from stress tests that show how much wings can bend to extreme flight tests that push the limits of an aircraft. Planes are really tough.
Why Might Someone Develop A Fear Of Flying
Fear of flying could stem from having an anxious parent, whom someone has seen have panic attacks during flights. Flying can be a nerve-racking experience if someone has been involved in a traumatic incident, whether this is bad turbulence or a crash.
Yuko Nippoda, psychotherapist and spokesperson for the UK Council for Psychotherapy , explains how a fear of flying often stems from a lack of control.
“If you are on a train and you need to get off, you can do so at the next stop. If you’re in a car, you can get out almost anywhere. But once you get on an aeroplane, you cannot leave. This sense of losing all authority over your actions can be very frightening,” he says.
Nippoda adds that people are used to feeling their feet on solid ground. Therefore, the idea of floating in the sky can lead to imagining worst-case scenarios.
“If catastrophic situations, such as engine failure, bad turbulence or a hijacking occur, the plane could crash. This fear of death can cause major flight anxiety, even if someone knows deep down those things are extremely unlikely. Their mind can go into overdrive.”
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How To Overcome Your Anxiety
In short: youre not alone in your fear, and the anxiety you experience leading up to, and while aboard, your flight is very real . There are ways to squash those fears, though, and it starts with a deliberate mental shift.
Youve probably read through safety statistics, or have at least been told that driving is more dangerous than flying. This is a good start, but the more you educate yourself on these facts, the less your anxiety will be able to creep it. eDreams, a global travel site, points nervous travelers to Federal Aviation Administration data that states that theres a one in 11-million chance of being involved in an airplane accident, and even then, 96 percent of passengers survive airline accidents. Additionally, airplanes undergo extensive safety testing, ranging from wing flexibility to exposure to extreme temperature and beyond. You are truly safer in an airplane than you are in your own home.
Theres a one in 11-million chance of being involved in an airplane accident, and even then, 96 percent of passengers survive.
In addition to reading up on safety statistics, educate yourself on the physics of flying and how planes work, in general. Gilliland says, Understanding the basics of flying like the phases of a trip and the sounds that planes make, can help. Without knowledge, anxiety leads us to make up really bad stories.
- Release and Replace Your Thoughts
- Distract Yourself
Another way to distract yourself is to use a tool Nadrich calls a visualization.
Getting Used To The Carrier
This is one thing you can do prior to flying to help your dog.
Your dog will be required to be in his carrier at all times throughout the flight, so its important to get him used to being in a carrier before you fly.
- Begin by leaving the carrier open in the house so your dog gets used to it being around.
- Put comfy bedding and his favorite toy in the carrier to entice him to enter it.
- After hes gotten used to the carrier and hopefully has actually entered it, its time to start training him to be placed in the carrier.
- Lead your dog to the carrier and give him a treat outside of it.
- Then place a treat on the floor in front of the carriers opening.
- If all is going smoothly, put a treat just inside the carrier.
- Keep doing this putting treats further and further into the carrier until your dog is eager to enter it.
Check out this video for some more tips on bag-training your dog for travel.
Once you have your dog excited to get into the carrier, partially close the opening while still giving him treats.
Keep doing this, closing the carrier more and more each time until he is comfortable with being in the carrier.
The final step is to get him used to being in the carrier for an extended period of time.
After youve gotten that far, begin to space his treats further apart to about 15 minutes.
Continue giving treats ever 15 minutes while extending the overall time hes in the carrier.
Do this on a weekend when you can clear your schedule.
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How Is Aerophobia Diagnosed
There isnt a specific diagnostic test for aerophobia. Your healthcare provider will carefully review your symptoms and ask you a variety of questions about your fear of flying. Aerophobia can range from mild to severe .
Your healthcare provider may diagnose you with a specific phobic disorder, such as aerophobia, if you:
- Develop symptoms at the thought of the fearful object or situation, such as airplanes or air travel.
- Experience your fear for six months or longer.
- Go out of your way to avoid the object or situation you fear.
- Have difficulty functioning at home, work or in social situations due to your fear.
Ask For A Seat Change
If you notice the plane is not full and feel uncomfortable or unsafe where you are, consider asking the flight attendant for a seat change.
At Eastern, if we notice a passenger is really nervous about their journey in the skies, and theyre seated toward the back, we offer to re-accommodate them to another part of the aircraft where the turbulence may feel lighter, like the front of the aircraft or near the wings, Jiménez said.
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Prevent Other Potential Stressors
Focus on what you can control, and in the process, prevent additional stressors from aggravating your anxiety. Know your flight details, check in ahead of time, and arrive to the airport with plenty of timemost airlines recommend arriving two hours early for a domestic flight and three hours early for an international one. Research whats available for dining and entertainment options at that airport before you arrive, so you can keep yourself busy and distracted before you depart. This may exclude consuming caffeine or alcohol if those beverages exacerbate your anxiety.
I Check The Fear Of Flying Subreddit
I spend a lot of time on Reddit, so of course, I had to join r/fearofflying.
This subreddit is a community of terrified passengers and knowledgeable pilots and its an absolute goldmine of information. The pilots that give up their time to write thousand-word responses to nervous fliers, explaining exactly how planes work and why they shouldnt be afraid, are truly some of the most wonderful humans. And so its a great place to spend some time reading through the posts.
But you know what helps me the most when visiting this subreddit?
The fact that nobody who has ever posted there has been in a plane crash. There are dozens upon dozens of posts a month from people who are convinced that getting on a plane is going to result in disaster. And it never. ever. happens.
Every single post is about how theyre terrified and theyre convinced something terrible is going to happen and what are the chances of x, y, and z. And then theres always a reply a day later from the original poster talking about how they made it to their destination with no worries.
It helps me so much to see people feeling the exact same way that I do and every single one of them ending up perfectly fine.
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Try Meditating In Your Seat With Apps Like Breathe
There was a time in my life when I wouldn’t have even been able to picture myself meditating, and thank goodness that’s no longer the case.
According to research out of Carnegie Mellon University, meditation reduces levels of a substance in the blood that’s linked to stress.
The thing that makes me most anxious about flying is feeling like I’m stuck in this space, but an app called “Stop, Breathe & Think” helps me get out of the space for a few minutes with guided meditations.
Cockpit Confidential By Patrick Smith
This is a book to read long before your flight and is perfect for those who love to be armed with lots of details to quell their anxieties.
It restores or fosters a childlike fascination with flying that you may never have had or has been lost due to multiple flights with anxiety.
At all times grounded and realistic, this is an excellent book for people with flight anxiety or simply an interest in aviation.
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Recommended Books To Help You Deal With Flying Anxiety
While everything so far is focused on how to get you through the flight, theres no harm in trying to alleviate your stress by getting clued up on why you have flight anxiety in the first place, and what the best ways to overcome it are.
If theres one thing these books stress, its that youre absolutely not alone when it comes to worrying about flying and its a perfectly natural feeling that most people have to deal with at least once.
Here are some of the best and most popular books aimed at those with flight anxiety:
Remember Professionals Are In Control
I have encountered passengers whose responses to turbulence ranged from mild to severe anxiety during my career, Armstrong said. My ideal technique is reassurance. Passengers want to know that they are safe.
Whenever she feels anxious at work, Armstrong reminds herself that she is equipped with the skills and knowledge to remedy difficult situations and is responsible for the safety of all passengers. This understanding that trained professionals like Armstrong are in control can help ease passenger anxiety as well.
During a flight when I experienced passengers with high anxiety, which impaired their ability to co-operate with our procedures, I announced, Ladies and gentlemen, remain calm. The flight attendants have the situation under control, she recalled. Immediately, the passengers were calm and cooperative.
Jiménez said she reminds anxious passengers that aircraft are one of the safest modes of transportation and that pilots and flights attendants are highly trained professionals.
While flying through the sky can be daunting, the aircraft is designed to keep us safe and the entire staff on board is trained to keep you safe and comfortable, she noted.
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Take Care Of Yourself
Alleviating your anxiety around turbulence begins before boarding. If you take care of yourself and your body ahead of the flight, youll feel more comfortable on board.
It is always best to be well prepared for your flight, Howard said. Hydrate the night before. Bring your favorite snacks, books, magazine, and, nowadays, you can download movies or TV shows. The better prepared you are makes for a less anxious flight.
Noise Cancelling Headphones/sleep Ear Buds
A way to block out all those worrisome plane noises is a must for worried flyers.
The less there is to worry you, the better.
Whether youre planning to listen to your favorite music, podcast, or a meditation app, or you simply want to block out the noise so you can go to sleep as quickly as possible, some headphones or earbuds are a must.
Your headphones will be much better quality than the ones provided on planes, which are uncomfortable and block out very little noise at all. So try and get wired versions if youre going to use the in-flight entertainment.
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Useful Tips For Keeping Calm During Long Flights
First, it’s important to note that flight anxiety is usually triggered by specific stimuli, whether it be a catastrophic thought, bodily sensation or a bad memory. These sensations, in turn, can amplify their anxiety and increase their risk of panic attacks, leading to a rather unhealthy feedback loop. If you’re stressed about an upcoming flight, consider using one or more of the following calming techniques:
Why Living With Fear Is The Solution
Living with fear is about not letting your fears take you over. Although they still exist, they dont overpower or paralyze you from taking action.
The truth is that you cant live in absence of all fear. Although some fears arent rational, many are. And some fear is healthy .
When you live with fear, you can:
- Differentiate the irrational fears from the rational ones,
- Detach yourself from emotions and act with intention despite your fears, and
- Have a healthy relationship with your fears.
Its not that you wont have any fears, just that you wont be held back by them.
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How To Deal With Flight Anxiety According To Experts
Any kind of travel can be anxiety-inducing, but for people with dealing with flight anxiety, it can be truly scary. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America says flight anxiety usually involves several separate fears people may afraid of being in an enclosed space or afraid of something bad happening in-air. “This fear can stem from a fear of not feeling in control,” psychologist Barbara Cox, Ph.D., tells Bustle. “As with any fear, the symptoms can include physical symptoms as well as psychological systems anything from tense muscles, chest pains, heart palpitations, stomach pains, dizziness, to impaired judgment, cloudy thinking, and worrisome thoughts about the future.”
The recent news about a Southwest Airlines flight making an emergency landing due to an engine failure mid-flight is scary for anyone to read about, but for people with flight anxiety, it can be incredibly triggering. One woman died after a plane window broke, while seven people suffered minor injuries, according to PBS NewsHour. But it’s important to note that flight fatalities are exceedingly rare in the U.S. TIME points out that Tuesday’s accident is the first fatal tragedy on a U.S. commercial airline in nine years. “Airplane crashes are much less common than car crashes, so when they do happen, they tend to be reported widely on media outlets, which makes them stand out in our minds,” says Dr. Cox.