If you’re afraid to fly, you’re not the only one. Flight anxiety affects 6.5 percent of the population—which is about 20 million people.
That probably didn’t make you feel any better about your situation, but hey, at least you’re not alone. Plus, there are several ways to get over your fear of flying. One of them being that you have to get on an actual plane, but you’ve got to start somewhere.
If you want to learn how to overcome your fear of flying, then take a deep breath and keep reading.
How to Overcome Your Fear of Flying
Contrary to what most people think, the fear of flying—aerophobia—doesn’t always have something to do with the plane’s potential to malfunction and crash. The thought of a plane crash can intensify a person’s fear of flying, however, the fear itself stems from a long list of environmental triggers.
Some of the more general triggers include anxiety, claustrophobia, or a fear of heights. The more specified triggers have to do with previous negative experiences and the sensations of take-off, landing, and turbulence. Plus there’s the fact that upon boarding you’re relinquishing control over your space and personal safety.
Whatever it is that triggers you, you can rest assured that there are plenty of ways to get over your fear of flying.
Have no fear, your fear of flying help is here:
Know the Facts
Fears tend to be irrational and cause you to believe that you’re in danger. Using logic can help you separate your fear from danger and ultimately put you at ease. So, learn all you can about airplanes and how they work.
Knowing statistics like how you only have a one in seven million chance of dying from a plane crash will put things in perspective. Learning about the mechanics of a plane and how it can still fly even if the engine fails can also help relieve some anxiety.
It may also help to read real stories written by pilots and flight attendants themselves. Especially the stories that include tips for international travel.
Turbulence can rattle anybody’s nerves, even those who don’t suffer from aerophobia. Of course, being strapped into a shaky metal tube at 30,000 plus miles high in the sky will do that to you.
Turbulence is caused by the same wind shifts that affect birds. Just like birds, airplanes are built to handle wind shifts. Not to mention, the turbulence you experience is minimal compared to how much a plane is designed to manage.
Pinpoint Your Triggers
If you want to get over your fear of flying, you’re going to have to identify what triggers those fears. For some people, it’s the long line at security. For others, it’s the take-off or watching the safety demonstration. Once you learn what sets you off, you can practice managing your fears and anxieties before they intensify.
Practice Breathing Techniques
Speaking of managing your fears and anxieties, using breathing techniques will do wonders to help you get through your next plane ride. There are several types of breathing exercises you can choose from, but the combat breathing technique used in the military is the most popular and effective at calming your nerves.
Also referred to as the 4-4-4 method, this technique requires that you breathe in, hold your breath, and breathe out for four seconds at a time. There are quite a few variations of it, but four seconds is a good place to start.
Airplanes aren’t the most spacious environments. So, if tight spaces aren’t your thing, you’re going to have to find a way to cope. To start, figure out which seat you’re most comfortable in. An aisle seat is always a good option because it allows you to get up and move freely without having to climb over other people. It’ll also keep you from looking out the window and thinking about how high up in the sky you are.
Of course, if you can afford the upgrade, flying first class where the seats are bigger and softer is where you want to be.
Invest in a Weighted Blanket
Weighted blankets are a worthwhile investment for anyone that suffers from anxiety in general. Plus, they’re not just made for home use. You can find weighted blankets made specifically for airplane travel, and better yet, they’re backed by science.
These blankets work by putting your body into “rest mode”. They also keep you warm, which is something that regular airplane blankets do not.
Meet the Pilot
If you’re able to board the plane early on, it can’t hurt to ask one of the flight attendants if you can meet the pilot and check out the cockpit. For many people, meeting the person who’s in charge and seeing the actual control panel creates a sense of trust.
Ask For Help
Sometimes reaching out to others creates a whole new kind of anxiety, but that doesn’t mean you should try. If you know that you’re in for a bumpy ride mentally, let the people in your row know. Educate them on what to do when things get bad so they can help you out.
You’re not alone, and chances are, the person sitting next to you has the same fears.
Use books, movies, games, puzzles, music, podcasts—anything to take your mind off of being on a plane. If you don’t have something else to focus your attention on, then you’ll be focusing on your fears and amplifying them.
Seek Out Therapy
If your flight anxiety is causing you to lose sleep and getting in the way of your life, it’s a good idea to seek out therapy. Therapy can help you get to the root of your anxieties, teach you coping techniques, and offer short term solutions such as medication. Just don’t mix any of those medications with alcohol!
Fly High with Confidence
Now that you know how to overcome your fear of flying it’s time to book that trip you’ve been putting off. Trust us, you’ll be fine!
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