8 Tips To Overcome Your Fear of Flying
Flying can bring on extreme anxiety for many of us.
In fact, it used to be one of my least favorite activities until I overcame my fear of flying. The good news is that there are ways to overcome those scary feelings. You don’t have to simply accept flying anxiety as a way of life.
There are proven ways to cope with your fear of flying, and even eliminate it altogether. In this article, I’ll show you some quick and effective tips to help you get started on beating your fear of flying.
8 Tips For Dealing with Flight Anxiety
Choose the Best Seat on the Plane
Where you sit on the plane can have an effect on your level of anxiety. But there is no single right answer here. To know what seat works best for you, you have to look at what triggers your fear.
If turbulence is one of the things that sets off anxiety for you then you want to sit in the middle of the airplane. The part of the plane that is right over the wings is the area that gets the least affected by turbulence. The reason is that the seats in the middle of the plane are the closest to the plane’s center of mass. That is not to say you won’t experience any bumpiness at all if you sit in the middle of the plane, it will just be much less than the seats at the front or the back.
If the sounds in the plane trigger your anxiety, however, you’ll want to sit as close to the front of the plane as possible. The front of the plane is the quietest area as it’s the furthest away from the engine(s).
With almost all the air travel booking websites or agencies, you can pre-select the seat when booking your ticket. But don’t worry if you didn’t do this when you booked your ticket. Even after booking your flight you can contact the airline and select your seat, or do so when checking in for your flight.
And most importantly – don’t panic if you can’t get a seat where you want on the plane. Turbulence and airplane noises may trigger anxiety, but they are just a standard part of any flight!
When we fly there can be hours when we’re not doing anything. It’s during these times that we may find ourselves focusing on all the frightening sounds and sensations of the plane ride. By being unoccupied, our mind can run wild as we obsess about all the possible disastrous scenarios that could happen on our flight. Keeping your mind busy can really help to reduce your flight anxiety.
Here are some ways to keep your mind busy when flying:
Listen to a meditation CD
Write in a journal
Computer games / Game apps on your phone
Adult coloring book (these can be quite therapeutic, and take a long time to complete)
Watch TV shows/ Movies
Book / Kindle
Do a Project
Staying productive on your flight is another way to keep your mind distracted by anxious thoughts. Use any activity that will keep your mind active, the bottom line is to get creative! Just make sure it’s an activity that doesn’t trigger more anxiety.
Here are examples of “work” you could do on your next flight:
Learn a new language
Office work that you are behind on
Write in a journal
Read about interesting attractions and activities at your upcoming destination
Write a letter or a postcard to someone
Create “to do lists” or set your upcoming yearly goals
Write a short story
Update/improve your resume and cover letter
Paperwork (applications, filling in forms, etc.)
Organize your photos
Caffeine is a stimulant — and that can be bad news for someone with flight anxiety. The jittery effects that caffeine has on your body resemble those of a frightening event. Studies have shown that caffeine can make anxiety worse and can even trigger a panic attack.
If you suffer from flight anxiety, you should eliminate or at least limit caffeine products such as coffee, energy drinks, 72 hours before you fly. And of course, try to avoid caffeine entirely on the actual flight itself. If you’re tempted to have a coffee, opt for decaf coffee or non-caffeinated herbal tea instead.
Get the Facts on Air Travel
Even though our intuition can tell us that flying is dangerous, commercial flying is one of the safest activities you can do.
Getting the statistics on how safe flying is, will go a long way to reassure you that you are not in danger. Do a quick search on the web on commercial flight statistics and you will come across plenty of websites that will give you all you need to know regarding how safe commercial flying really is.
There are also online tools that show you all the planes that are in the sky at any given time. This information can help you understand how ordinary commercial flying really is.
Use a Mindfulness Exercise
When we start to panic on a flight our mind can spiral into a state of frenzy. Our scary thoughts begin to take on a life of their own as we imagine all the things that could go wrong with our flight. When this happens using mindfulness exercises can help you stay calm and relaxed.
Use the following mindfulness exercise to calm your racing mind, by shifting attention away from scary thoughts to non-threatening things in your environment:
To do this exercise sit or recline comfortably, and take a moment to bring your full attention to each one of your senses:
Seeing: Scan your environment and bring your attention to 5 things that you can see. Try to notice things that you don’t normally pay attention to like the details of the seat in front of you.
Feeling: Focus on 4 sensations that you are currently feeling like the texture of your shirt, the temperature in the air or the pressure on your feet from the floor.
Hearing: Listen to your environment and note 3 sounds that you can hear such as the hum of the air conditioner, or the distant chatter.
Smelling: Notice 2 things that you can smell right now that you usually filter out. These scents can be subtle like the lingering smell of cleaning products or the plastic aroma of the seat cushions.
Tasting: Focus on 1 thing that you can taste right now. If you have water or a drink with you, take a sip, or just notice the taste in your mouth.
Another way to combat your flying anxiety is to stay active and exercise regularly. This may sound obvious but it can really make a difference.
Exercise releases endorphins that work as an antidepressant and can release anxiety and make you feel good. Additionally, exercise can take your mind off of your anxious thoughts allowing you to shift your mindset away from negative thinking cycles.
Intense physical activity is not necessary either. You can gain the positive effects just by doing lighter forms of activity such as walking.
Here are some ways you can get exercise before and during your flight to help you stay relaxed:
Take a brisk walk around the airport terminal
Stretch at your seat on the plane, or stand up and stretch in the aisle
Walk to the toilet or galley area to increase your circulation
Don’t Conceal your Fear
A big mistake that a lot of fearful flyers tend to do is not tell anyone that they are afraid. But flying anxiety is nothing to be embarrassed about, and concealing your fear of flying only makes it worse. Remember, around 25% of the population suffers from some level of flight anxiety so there’s no need to suffer in silence.
When you get to the boarding gate, tell the agent at the check-in counter that you’re a nervous flyer. Once you board the plane tell the flight attendants as well. Ask if they would be able to “drop by” your seat every once in awhile to let you know that everything’s going as planned and the flight is carrying on normally. Don’t feel bad about asking them either, flight attendants are happy to help fearful flyers.
Also, don’t forget to let your seatmates know that you’re a nervous passenger. Speaking about your fear helps release bottled up tension – Remember, what you need is support!
Talk to a Doctor
If you find that you’re struggling with your anxiety constantly then it is a good idea to talk to a doctor. Seeing a qualified professional in the mental health field can help you narrow down on the underlying causes of your anxiety and work through them using a variety of effective techniques.
Fear of flying is a common, yet unnecessary phobia that you don’t have to live with. In this article, I’ve shared some effective tips that can greatly reduce your anxiety.