Preparing For Flight Day
Why Are We Scared Of The Safest Form Of Travel
The most disturbing environment for an anxious person is a highly secured vacuum you must wait in for long stretches of time, with nothing to do but anticipate whatever youre waiting for to finally occur. The entire flying process is like standing on the starting line of a race for a few hours, then waiting in your heat while they call four groups before yours, then assuming position on the line while someone with a starter pistol lists all the procedures you must follow should you trip and fall and almost die.
But why do we get so fucking terrified of the safest form of travel? Google plane crash stats and youll find a bunch of Reddit nerds bullet-pointing all the different ways you are more likely to die. Roller Coasters. Lightning. Ripe coconuts falling at a bad time. Your chances of dying in a car crash are 1 in 5,000, whereas the likelihood that youll die in a plane crash is 1 in a measly 11 million.
Besides all that, take-off and landing are just plain intense. Youre in a massive aircraft plowing through bouts of wind, storms, and jet streams. You need to pop your ears the entire time . Anxious brains arent in the wrong. Youre not wrong. Its not your fault.
But there are active steps you can take to fix the problem. I can happily report that my plane phobia is gone and there are helpful remedies worth trying out before you deny yourself what is arguably the greatest opportunity given to mankind in these modern times.
I Imagine Im Taking A Flight Every Day Of My Life
You know what else helps? Imagining that Im about to step on a plane during random moments in my life. Even if I dont have a flight coming up for months, I like to pretend that I need to head to the airport in a few hours.
I imagine which flight it could possibly be for Seattle to New York? Barcelona to London? Dubai to Bangkok? Perth to Cape Town? And I think about how, if I was about to get on any of those flights right now, Id be terrified. I think about how Id be panicking in the airport, convinced I shouldnt step on the plane, worrying that something bad was going to happen.
The following day, I remind myself that there were no crashes, no air incidents, and no worries. I could have taken any one of 50,000 flights that day and landed perfectly safely. And that would be the case day after day after day.
I remind myself of this whenever I notice a plane up in the sky. I pretend Im on board, I think about how panicked Id feel if I was, and then I remind myself that its going to land without issues.
Also Check: Is Coffee Bad For Anxiety
Transform Anxiety Into Excitement
Now, this is easier said than done, but to our body, fear and excitement feel very similar. It can help to focus on the purpose of your trip – what awaits you when you touch down? If youre going on holiday, focus on the new experiences youre going to have. If youre travelling to see a loved one, think about how great itll be to see them in person.
Use this as a focus when anxiety comes up and remind yourself that you have done scary things before and survived. You can do it again.
While we hope these tips can help, its worth noting that for those who are clinically vulnerable, it isnt just about easing anxiety . Its about doing what feels possible and reasonable to you in terms of travel, and for more allies to advocate for the vulnerable.
If you’re ready to try hypnotherapy, you can find a hypnotherapist on Hypnotherapy Directory.
What Can I Do About My Flight Anxiety
Taking a medication isnt the only line of defense against flight anxiety while that may be helpful for some, there are many other steps you can take to make flying more bearable. Its important to employ a variety of options for addressing flight anxiety, because just one method might not work every time. Coping can be categorized into preventive and situational measures.
Before a flight, you can take preventive steps to help you cope:
- Exercise before a flight. Exercise helps tire your body out so that youll be more at ease when you board and settle in for your flight.
- Take early morning or late-night flights so that you have less time to ruminate.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine both can make it harder for your body to adjust to being airborne and disturb your sleep cycle. Caffeine could increase any anxiety you may have, and alcohol could work against you as well, as it makes maintaining sleep more difficult, possibly resulting in your feeling less rested and at ease.
- Consider cognitive behavioral therapy to address the unhelpful thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to your fear of flying. This is usually a fairly short, targeted therapy to identify what the fear is about, address how to combat the harmful thoughts, and teach you behaviors to employ during the flight to help alleviate anxiety. Many people benefit from short-term treatment.
DistractiveDistractive techniques employ your five senses to help prevent you from focusing on your fear:
Recommended Reading: What Medication Is Good For Anxiety
Talk To Your Neighbor
An effective way of dealing with anxiety is to interrupt your anxious thought patterns.
Simple distraction is a great way to do this. If you find that you cant shift your focus using a book or movie, try talking to your neighbor.
Strike up a conversation to distract your mind from its anxious thoughts.
Connecting with another person can help you avoid giving in to your anxiety and help you meet a new friend in the process.
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.
Also Check: What Can Anxiety Feel Like
What Treatment Methods Are Available
There are quite a few options for treating flight anxiety, starting with psychological treatments, through short-term treatments such as NLP and CBT. In extreme cases, doctors will prescribe medications. However, it is undoubtedly possible to help most people suffering from flight anxiety with focused, relevant information about the flight, various simulations, and controlled flight experience with the help of a pilot.
Through the audio system on some EL AL aircraft, you can listen to Captain Alon Pereg, who assists passengers who are afraid of flying and helps them understand the flight and the symptoms involved. We recommend you utilize this unique service to make your flight more pleasant and alleviate your fear.
Arrive At The Airport Early
When I’m anxious about a flight, I give myself extra time to check-in, get through security, and get to my gate.
According to the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers , planning ahead is crucial to avoiding and reducing travel anxiety.
Since I get anxious about missing my flights, I usually plan ahead by giving myself a 30-minute cushion.
Don’t Miss: How To Reduce Stress And Anxiety
Who Is At Risk For Aerophobia
Aerophobia is most common in people between the ages of 17 and 34. This is a time in life when significant changes occur, such as graduation, marriage or childbirth. People may be scared that flying jeopardizes their life at such an important time. Its possible for someone to fly without anxiety for years, and then develop aerophobia.
Dramamine Fights Both Flight
Dramamine, an over-the-counter medication typically used to fight motion sickness, can perform double-duty as an anxiety reliever for air travel.
Aerospace expert Kathleen Bangs, a former commercial pilot who now teaches flight classes and covers air travel for multiple publications, explains that “many people think the OTC drug Dramamine is only taken to combat nausea, but it’s actually quite effective at inducing drowsiness and reducing anxiety in nervous flyers. I recommend it to passengers as an alternative to that pre-takeoff or in-flight martini. Besides, alcohol dehydrates the body on a cellular level, and the last thing anyone needs while traveling in the ultra-dry air of an airline cabin is more dehydration.”
Recommended Reading: How Do You Deal With Anxiety
Nodpod Weighted Sleep Mask
Most sleep masks are flimsy and wont help block out the harsh industrial airplane lights but what if your sleep mask could pull double duty and help you get a more relaxing nap on a normally stressful flight?
Like a calming hug for your head, the weighted texture of this NodPod sleep mask gives you that same microbead texture youd get in a really good weighted blanket. Itll help you get some much needed shut-eye with no pinching elastic band thanks to its unique pull-through design, which works especially well when youre trying to sleep upright . Soft, flexible, and with a hint of pressure, this is mask will be your new travel nap companion.
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.
Recommended Reading: How To Get Tested For Anxiety
How To Manage Travel Anxiety During Your Trip
Weâve arrived at the destination safe and sound. But now we need to navigate a new place and perhaps even a different culture or language. These unpredictable and uncontrollable elements of travel are often what sets vacation anxiety ablaze. For those who tend to struggle with these factors, consider bringing certain elements of a daily routine on vacation. Studies have shown that the predictability and control of a regular routine can significantly help to manage stress and bring about a sense of calm.
This doesnât necessarily mean thereâs no room for spontaneity or exploration while on a trip. These travel-sized snippets of a daily ritual might be something as simple as having a cup of coffee in the morning or taking some time to read before bed, just like at home. It only takes a little bit of familiarity to anchor and settle the mind.
Additionally, those mindfulness techniques that helped us feel calm throughout the flight can also be used anytime during a trip. Whenever weâre beginning to feel anxious or overwhelmed, we might look for a quiet place to take ourselves through a brief deep-breathing exercise or a few minutes of guided imagery. With this quick timeout, weâll reset the mind and body so that we can get back to enjoying our time away.
Help For Fear Of Flying
Avoiding flying will not help: it will only serve to keep your fears intense and alive. The next time you fly, try some of the following to help with your unease:
- Before you fly, try to recognize the signs that your anxiety level is rising and make an attempt to manage it with deep breathing, yoga, or meditation
- If you are on the plane, try relaxation exercises: take a deep breath, lower your shoulders, and unclench your shoulder muscles before letting your breath out. Do this with various areas of your body .
- Focus on a peaceful image in your mind. Make it realfor example, if you are picturing yourself on a beach, feel the suns warmth on you, hear the cry of the seagulls, taste the sweetness of the fruit you are eating. Focus on the details!
- Take a deep breath in through your nose, feeling your abdomen rise as you do. Exhale through your mouth to a count of 10, pushing out all of the air with your abdomen. Do this 4-5 times while allowing your muscles to relax.
Fight Fear With Knowledge:
When it comes to a fear of flying, your anxiety is essentially tricking your body into thinking it’s in immediate danger. Learning more about how airplanes work can help calm your nerves during take-off or when turbulence hits. The more you know about air travel, the less mid-flight uncertainty you’ll have to contend with. It may also be useful to browse the National Transportation Safety Board’s website to get a better understanding of how uncommon aviation accidents actually are.
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.
Also Check: Does Anxiety Cause Stomach Pain
Watch Something Moving Yet Unrelated To Death
Ive found inspiring documentaries to be particularly helpful because they root me in a reality I might theoretically one day get involved with instead of dying, as opposed to an action film where the screenwriters got lazy and killed the lead in a plane crash while Radiohead played somberly in the background. Tear-jerkers are also helpful because its tough to be anxious and sad simultaneously.
Find A Distraction That Works
Some people can get lost in a good movie or podcast, which could distract them from the fact that they’re flying, but it’s not that simple for everyone. “One trick I’ve learned is to focus on the opposite side of my brain,” says travel blogger Nicole Ratner. “So, for instance, I am left-handed, and when any turbulence begins, I will take out a piece of paper and use my opposite hand to write my name over and over again. It helps keep my brain sharp and focused on what’s in front of me to distract me from the fear.”
Don’t Miss: How To Practice Mindfulness For Anxiety
Share With Others Spend Time With Friends And Most Importantly Laugh
Being with friends, sharing what you are experiencing and laughing all increase endorphins. It makes us feel nurtured and shows to our brain that we are not in danger.
Most people experience similar fears and worries. If you tell your friends about what is making you panic, I would bet that they not only understand but are also able to share their own experiences.
How To Calm Flying Anxiety And Fear Of Flying
Nippoda stresses the importance of breathing exercises to remain calm before flying.
“There are many techniques but, in general, it’s important to inhale for a short period and exhale for a longer period . People can inhale naturally but exhale until they have emptied all the air from the lungs, which helps to keep the rhythm of breathing,” he says.
He says it can help to check out the flight information before boarding for reassurance. By doing this, you know what kind of aircraft you will be on, where your seat is, where the toilets are, and the general layout. Familiarising yourself with the aeroplane before you fly can mean the boarding experience feels less daunting.
Also Check: Can Anxiety Keep You From Sleeping