Remember Why Youre Doing This
Something else that can help you with your fear of flying is simply regaining a sense of excitement and purpose. In a previous Medical News Today article, I cited a study from the Harvard Business School in Boston, MA, that suggested that we overcome anxiety through reappraisal .
That study explains that there are fewer degrees of separation between anxiety and excitement than between anxiety and calmness, so its much easier to trick your mind into thinking that your racing heart is caused by your enthusiasm at the thought of getting to your destination.
Additionally, reminding yourself why youre on a plane in the first place may help to boost that sense of excitement and the motivation to go through with it.
If youre heading home for the holidays, think about the joy and peace that being with your loved ones will bring. If youre taking a break from work or school, picture all the fun youll have at your destination.
Focusing on the higher purpose of your trip puts the fear into perspective, said Bricker. If you can latch onto the happy outcome and understand that only a few hours of discomfort separate you from it, that can help to minimize the fearful proportions that flying has taken on in your mind.
Meditation And Controlled Breathing
Psychotherapist and self-acknowledged fearful flyer Sarah Osmer leans on a series of guided meditations to help herself through every flight. One of the meditations teaches slow, deliberate breathing that soothes the body from its panicked state.
Our breath quickens to prepare us to react to danger, so slowing our breath down helps us feel safer, Osmer told TPG. Our bodies respond to fear and then our minds, in turn, respond to our bodies. If you can manipulate your bodys response, you can also help to manipulate your mental response.
Choose Your Seat Wisely
If youre prone to flight anxiety, make sure to choose your seat wisely. Determine whether you feel most comfortable in the aisle, middle, or window seat.
Sitting toward the front of the plane is another great method for decreasing flight anxiety. Kevin Kelly, a senior captain with a major U.S. airline, explains that sitting toward the front of the plane normally results in a much smoother and quieter ride.
If your piggy bank will allow it, upgrade to First Class. Many first class flights include a variety of amenities, including goose down duvet blankets, recliner seats, and entertainment. According to Travel + Leisure, feeling physically comfortable will make achieving emotional comfort that much easier.
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Talk To A Flight Attendant
Its better to warn your flight attendant in advance about your anxiety. In this matter, the airline crew will be especially attentive to you and, if necessary, will advise you on how to calm down on a plane.
During the flight attendant courses, they are taught not only to ensure safety and proper food delivery but also to provide support to all passengers, including the methods of how to help with overcoming fear of flying.
How To Deal With Panic Attacks On A Plane
If you start to feel flying anxiety in the middle of a flight, it’s likely this panic will worsen quickly if you feel trapped and aren’t able to use an emergency exit. Therefore, starting breathing exercises straightaway can help calm you down.
You may want to close your eyes and visualise something that puts you at ease and eases your fear of flying. Perhaps this is you lying on the beach at your eventual holiday destination, or a peaceful landscape.
“Allow yourself to relax. Remind yourself that you are in control within a limited space, even if you feel out of control. By practising your anti-anxiety techniques, you can start to feel empowered,” says Nippoda.
You can also practise simple distraction techniques such as:
- Listening to music.
- Watching a comforting film or TV series.
- Doing a puzzle.
- Reading a book.
If you feel extremely uncomfortable, do not hesitate to call for the staff on board, who have been trained to deal with passengers who struggle with anxiety.
If you have been prescribed medication for anxiety or panic attacks make sure you have it on hand.
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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 .
Have Relaxation Remedies On Hand
We dont want to sit here and tell you to medicate heavily before a flight, but a prescription from a licensed physician for fast-acting anxiety medications can greatly reduce discomfort for anxious flyers. Keep in mind, though, that all bodies react differently to different medications, and they might not be guaranteed to help.
Another alternative to prescriptions is herbal remedies such as St. Johns Wort or Scullcap to reduce nerves. Something as simple as a sleepy-time tea could also help reduce anxiety and cause drowsiness, allowing worried flyers the opportunity to rest easy during a flight.
With all the talk about medications and herbal remedies, wed like to point out that you should probably avoid the temptation to drink alcohol or coffee during a flight. Though we tend to believe that alcohol helps our bodies to relax, it actually tends to increase anxiety levels. It also causes dehydration and headaches. Similarly, caffeine is known for spiking anxiety levels.
to learn more about how alcohol and caffeine can make your nervous states even worse.
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I Stopped Speaking About It
I used to spend the run-up to every departure constantly telling my boyfriend how nervous I was about having to get on a plane, but all that did was reiterate to myself that I was nervous about having to get on a plane.
Instead, I tried telling him that I was excited to fly again and I couldnt wait to get on a plane. I told him that I couldnt believe how little anxiety I had about flying this time around.
Having a much more positive mindset, even though I was absolutely lying, helped calm my nerves. Repeating over and over that I wasnt nervous made me start to believe it. I highly recommend doing this in the run-up to your flight.
What Fuels Our Fear Of Flying
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 6.5 percent of the U.S. population has aviophobia , and roughly 25 percent experience some sort of flying-related anxiety.
Some of the primary reasons some people are afraid to fly are a fear of crashing, a fear of being out of control, a fear of the unknown, a fear of heights, having lost a loved one in a plane crash and feeling claustrophobic, says Ora Nadrich, a certified mindfulness meditation instructor and life coach. Also, some people experience an overall sense of discomfort with the entire flying experience: airport procedures, crowds, turbulence, unappetizing food, cramped space and long flights.
Anxiety is fueled by irrational, worst case scenario thoughts, and confined spaces are breeding grounds for this process.
Unsettling news reports such as United Airlines personnel violently dragging a passenger off a flight, or American Airlines losing the ashes of a passengers daughter can exacerbate flying fears, as well.
Anxiety is fueled by irrational, worst case scenario thoughts, and confined spaces are opportunities for anxious thoughts, explained Dr. Kevin Gilliland, a licensed clinical psychologist and author of Struggle Well, Live Well. He added, Our anxious thoughts can be so powerful that they even activate our physical systems. That means our breathing becomes shallow, our chest gets tight, our palms get sweaty, we feel nauseated and maybe even lightheaded.
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Expect And Understand The Routine Physical Sensations Of Flying
If your anxiety is heightened, your brain may ring alarm bells around unfamiliar sensations, of which there are a few in flight. “Imagine this: You get in an elevator on the ground floor, and press the button for the 10th floor. The door closes, and as the elevator starts to rise, you feel heavy. As the elevator approaches the 10th floor, it has to slow down and stop. As it does, you feel ‘light-headed.’ In an elevator, you know what the feeling is about. You are just slowing down your ascent. Though this feels like falling, you aren’t falling at all. The same thing happens in an airplane when we level off after a climb, or when we reduce power after takeoff,” says Bunn. In other words, you may feel lightheaded at various points on the flight, but that does not mean you are falling.
You’ll also want to prepare yourself for the experience of something called noise abatement. “On some takeoffs, we reduce power after reaching about 1,000 feet , which can be frightening if you don’t know what it’s all about,” says Bunn. “Ask the captain when you meet him or her if the power will be changed significantly after take off, and ask how it will feel.”
Getting Prepared For The Flight
Visualize A Smooth Fight
During the weeks leading up to your flight, use visualization to envision a smooth flight. Put aside some time each day to work on this strategy. Get into a comfortable position and close your eyes. Use your imagination to see yourself going to the airport. Imagine getting onto the plane, feeling calm and relaxed about your flight.
Use all your senses, thinking about how the plane sounds as it takes off, what you might see through the window, and how you will feel steady as you remain in your seat. Breathe deeply as you visualize your flight. When you are ready to come out of your visualization, remind yourself how calm you feel, and then slowly open your eyes. If you practice regularly before your next flight, you may feel less anxious once on board.
Enjoy Time At The Airport
Some airports have therapy animals that walk through the terminals and help passengers to reduce fear of flying. For example, emotional support dogs were introduced at the Southampton Airport to help nervous flyers.
While waiting, you can also do some shopping or delight yourself with delicious food. A light snack before the flight will give you a feeling of fullness, comfort, and calmness taking the fear of flying away from you.
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Familiarize Yourself With Airplane Noises
You’re about to land and the plane is rattling like both of its wheels are about to fall off is it time to panic? No, the carry-on luggage and the seat-back tables are shifting slightly just like they do every time the plane takes off and lands. Sometimes all it takes to combat anxiety is a little information. Read up on the typical bumps and noises that may occur during a flight. It also helps to understand just how rigorous safety measures are for aircraft. For example, aircraft must be able to support one-and-a-half times the maximum load it would ever carry and weathering environmental extremes such as 120-degree temperatures. “Our anxiety is fed by ‘what if?’ catastrophic thoughts. Once you become knowledgeable, your ‘what if’ thoughts will be limited by the facts,” said Seif.
Pay Attention To The Safety Presentation Even If You’ve Flown Before
As a kid, my family made fun of me for how avidly I paid attention to and followed along with the flight safety demonstration every single time we flew but I stand by it.
At 23, I’ve flown more than 100 times in my life, and I still always follow along with the safety pamphlet in the seat pocket in front of me. It helps me manage anxiety to remind myself that there’s an emergency plan and I am in on it.
Healthline backs this, stating that preparing for the “what ifs” can help relieve travel anxiety.
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Flight Anxiety And How To Get Over It
Nervous jitters, while youre 14,000 ft. above the ground, are probably something most of us have experienced. Whether it is your first ever flight, or you have an intense fear of heights, not being comfortable in a plane comes to everyone more often than we think. It is human behavior of fearing things we cant control, and a habit of panicking when we are in fear. Anything that is meant to run in matters of trust, brings panic.
But these feelings are something one can easily overcome. Flights can be fun too! Nervousness and anxiety are born out of subjective feelings that one holds as a result of something else. Maybe the take-off and landing parts freak you out. Maybe it is claustrophobia or aerophobia that is building up to all of these anxious feelings that are holding your breath while youre sitting on the airplane seat and the plane slowly takes off away from the ground.
One of the most important parts of getting over your flight anxiety is knowing exactly what it is that you are scared of. Recognizing what particular part about the entire flying experience is making you anxious. By doing so, you will also recognize how you can get over it. Anxiety is a bundle of emotions that comes out of fear of something that is not really there. These unwanted series of fear can rise from one particular real fear.