Fearless Flying: 10 Practical Tips to Overcome Flight Anxiety
According to Business Insider, about 40% of travelers do not enjoy flying, and around 3 percent refuse to fly altogether. Somewhere between those figures are lots of people who have an inherent fear of flying to some degree, and avoid it if they can. If you're one in that category, your anxiety about flying should not keep you grounded forever, as there are many things you can do both to prepare for your flight, as well as manage your fears in flight.
There may be a number of reasons which contribute to your fear of flying. It can be due to a sole inherent fear or a combination of various factors.
And while its true that buying traveler insurance might make you feel secure in case of a mishap, most travelers who fear some or all aspects of flying, simply knowing the basics of the workings of the airplane can alleviate their anxiety.
1. Know the Plane
Knowledge is king when it comes to reducing your fears of flying. Knowing the particulars of how an airplane works will help your mind process things like turbulence, noises in the cabin, or changes in pressure. For example, did you know that turbulence rarely moves a plane more than a few meters up or down? Or that the statistics gained over millions of hours of air travel have shown that flying is the safest mode of transportation, and that in fact, the most dangerous part of your journey is driving too or from the airport? Or that even though most airplane manufacturers today like Boeing or Airbus have moved to twin-engine aircraft, as engine and software technology has advanced so far as to allow even large wide-body jets to fly with only one engine should the other fail?
2. Know what causes Turbulence
Along the theme of knowledge is king, knowing what those bumps are while your flying will help lower your flying fears.
Did you know that during most encounters with turbulence the plane only shifts up or down a few meters? And whereas its true that planes rarely encounter severe turbulence, when it does happen you'll be safe in your seat - as long as your seat belt is fastened tight.
3. Pick the Right Seat
If you have fears of flying, ask yourself if you'd feel more comfortable looking out a window from a window seat, being snuggled by two other passengers in a middle seat, or if an aisle seat appeals more to you.
Also keep in mind that seats in the middle of the plane tend to feel the effects of turbulence less than the back.
Take the extra time, or even spend a little more at the time of booking, to secure a seat that will help calm you during your flight.
4. Meet the Crew
If there is some time before your flight takes off, you can ask to meet the pilot or first officer of your plane. You can also spend a minute interacting with your flight attendant, who has seen it all and is trained to help you thru the process.
Meeting with the folks who have your safety in their hands can make your journey on the plane smooth and comfortable.
5. Practice Relaxation Exercises
Do you know that relaxation and meditation exercises play a very important role in reducing the fear of flying. You can imagine a beautiful and safe place by closing your eyes and focusing on this place.
On the other side, if allow yourself to keep thinking about what can go wrong with the plane, your mind will follow that track unless there is a distraction.
Read up on some meditative and breathing techniques you can practice while on your flight. These exercises also help you to imagine that the plane is landing safely every time you think of a disaster.
6. Limit Caffeine and Alcohol Intake
Caffeine and alcohol are known to have stimulating and depressant effects, respectively, which can exacerbate anxiety and make it more difficult to relax during your flight. By limiting your intake of these substances, you can better manage your fear of flying.
Caffeine, commonly found in coffee, tea, energy drinks, and chocolate, can heighten feelings of nervousness, increase heart rate, and cause jitteriness – all of which can contribute to flight anxiety. Instead of consuming caffeinated beverages before or during your flight, consider switching to decaffeinated options or opting for water or herbal tea. Herbal teas such as chamomile, lavender, or lemon balm can help calm your nerves and promote relaxation.
Alcohol may initially seem like a solution to calm your nerves, but it can ultimately have negative effects on your ability to cope with fear and anxiety during a flight. Alcohol can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to increased fatigue and irritability, and may also cause dehydration. Moreover, alcohol can impair your judgment, making it harder to rationalize your fears and implement the coping strategies you've learned.
7. Play Music
You can also listen to the music of your choice through headphones and closing your eyes. This practice helps you to calm your mind by lowering your heart rate and blood pressure. You might also try listening to an audio book you like, as it will engage your mind and distract you during your flight.
8. Get Professional Help
Fear of flying therapy sessions and workshops can also help you deal with the problem of anxiety with a professional. There are professionals specially trained to help you overcome your flying fears.
9. Explore More Resources
Knowledge is power. Fortunately there are several books written about this subject, none seem as comprehensive as "Soar: The Breakthrough Treatment For Fear Of Flying," by Captain Tom Bunn, who shares his expertise to help anxious flyers overcome their flight anxiety.
Drawing from his experience in founding the SOAR program, Captain Bunn provides therapists with invaluable tools and techniques to successfully treat clients struggling with this phobia. Anxious flyers who have exhausted other options can look forward to joining nearly 10,000 SOAR graduates, who now enjoy stress-free air travel. The book begins by explaining the root causes of anxiety, claustrophobia, and panic in relation to flying, then guides readers through step-by-step exercises designed to permanently and automatically control these feelings. Captain Bunn demystifies the mechanics of flying, explains its safety, and offers tips on strategically planning flights, selecting airlines, and meeting the captain. Thousands have already conquered their fear of flying through Captain Bunn's program, and this book equips readers with the knowledge and techniques they need to take control of their anxiety and fly with ease.
10. Focus on your Destination
Think of the wonderful spots that you are going to discover after you reach your destination (like Washington DCA, New York LGA, San Diego, or Seattle SEA just to name a few), or the time you will spend with friends or loved ones. This practice will increase your excitement and distract your mind with positive thoughts.
These are a few tricks to get you on the flight and to reach your destination comfortably. But the best remedy to get through the fear of flying is to expose it.
Overcoming your fear of flying may seem daunting, but with practice and persistence, you can conquer your anxiety and enjoy the freedom of air travel. By understanding the mechanics of flight, choosing the right seat, practicing relaxation techniques, and seeking professional help if needed, you'll be well on your way to soaring above your fears and embracing new adventures.
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