Tips to Help You Conquer Your Fear of Flying
Advances in the airplane industry are arguably one of the largest aspects contributing to how connected our globe has become in the modern age. For the vast majority of human history, getting anywhere that wasn’t relatively nearby was a long journey that would require provisions and preparation. Now that airplanes are available globally, nearly every corner of the planet can be reached in under a day. But many millions of people are extremely scared of this new mode of transportation. And it’s understandable; humans were never designed to hurtle through the air at tremendous speeds. However, avoiding flying cannot only put a serious hamper on your opportunities in life, sometimes it’s not a choice at all. It might be for business, an important family event, or any other compelling reason; you never know when you’re going to have to face your fear of flying. Whether your hand has been forced, or you’re choosing to face your fear for your own enrichment, here are some techniques you can use to deal with the fear and anxiety.
Study the Stats
One of the biggest reasons for the strong fear many people have for flying is connected to the scale of destruction possible if something goes wrong. You have a decent chance to survive a car running off of the road, but a plane plummeting out of the sky is much harder to come out of alive. While most people see that as a serious negative, it’s actually a strike in flying’s favor. Because the consequences are so potentially severe, airplanes need to be extremely safe to be allowed to run on a regular basis. Think about it; if a commercial airplane crashes, it’s a serious news story, whereas thousands of cars crash daily without a mention. If you look at the statistics, it becomes clear that flying is, in terms of fatalities, the safest way to travel by a very large margin.
Turbulence is terrifying to anyone who doesn’t know what’s going on. If you had not been prepared for turbulence, it would have freaked you out the first time you felt it. From the back of a plane, turbulence feels like the entire plane is falling apart to the layperson. The truth is much more simple; turbulence is just a little bit of wind on the outside of the plane. It’s unavoidable, and it’s loud, but it happens on almost every flight, and it’s never something you need to worry about.
Pay for Your Peace of Mind
Your fear will make you more uncomfortable, and discomfort will make you less able to deal with your fear. If you’re confined in tiny, cramped seats with no room to breath and no comforts offered, then your fear will have a much easier time taking hold of you. If you pay extra for a first class seat, the mere ability to sit back and relax in a comfortable seat and have all of the accouterments that go along with such a ticket will likely make your fear easier to deal with.
Read the In-Flight Safety Pamphlet
Knowing all of the safety procedures in case of a crash could set your mind at ease. After all, it’s not like your pilots would ever just give up in case of a problem; most crash landings resemble landings more than explosions, and that’s why all of those safety procedures are there. Familiarizing yourself with them could set your mind at ease, knowing that you know the protocol in case the worst were to happen.
Try Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy is an extremely effective method of therapy that’s used to fight all sorts of cognitive issues. It’s effective at dealing with things like depression, addiction, and yes, phobias. It manages this by teaching you how to approach your emotions and your fears; you don’t stop having that fear, but it stops having the same control over you. Whether it’s through a one on one or a group setting all depends on which you find more comfortable.
Take a Simulator for a Spin
It might serve you well to face your fear in a more controlled setting than an actual plane flight. Trying out a flight simulator can help you familiarize yourself with the process of flying, and teach you more about how it’s actually done, all without taking you off the ground. If you do a few simulations, you’ll be more accustomed to the process when it comes to actually flying, and you’ll have a better understanding of what it is that’s getting you to where you’re going.
Sit Near the Front
You probably know from elementary school that the back of the bus is where you have the bumpiest ride. The same is true for airplanes. Therefore, when you are booking your seat, you should try to make sure you book a seat as far up towards the front of the plane as you are able to. The less you’re jostled around in the flight, the less you will have to trigger your fears.
Talk to the Captain
It’s hard to put your life into the hands of a person that you’ve never met. Trusting the idea that there is a pilot up there that wants to make sure you’re safe can be a difficult thing to do, even if you mentally know it to be the case. If you meet your captain and talk to him, you’ll have a face to attach that trust to. You should be able to ask to talk to the captain as long as you’re still on the ground; up in the air, the cockpit will be locked.
Know Your Comfort Zone
Are you more claustrophobic, incapable of sitting comfortably if you’re trapped inside the seats by other people? Do you need a bit more room to stretch out your legs? Would it help to be able to look out the window during the flight? Wherever in the plane you personally feel more comfortable, that’s where you should aim. If you haven’t put any though into it yet, now’s the time to do so; any bit that can make your experience more endurable will lessen your fears of the situation.
Try Taking Something
If you truly have serious anxiety during flights, then you can talk to your doctor about prescribing you something for it. Generally, doctors will be pretty lenient about such requests; a fear of flying is a long established thing that plagues millions. As is always the case when taking any sort of psychoactive substances, know how it interacts with your body, and never abuse such things or use them regularly. It’s a bit of a drastic measure, but if you can manage to pop a pill, close your eyes, and wake up in your location, then you can cut out a lot of the fear and anxiety in the interim.
Have a Mantra
A mantra is a sentence that you can repeat to yourself over and over. It doesn’t really matter what the mantra is, it just matters that you can remember it and that it will address your fear at the moment. You could try, “Turbulence is normal,” if that’s a particular thing that bothers you, “Air travel is the safest way to travel,” if you’re worried about the danger, or even just, “It will be okay.” Whatever it is, in the moments when your fear is beginning to spike, repeat that mantra to yourself. Use the words to reassure yourself. More importantly, it will give you something to focus on, allowing the waves of anxiety to pass. Just make sure that the mantra is something positive and uplifting; it won’t due to have a mantra that doesn’t alleviate your fear in some way.
Face Your Fears
Ultimately, you cannot deal with a fear of flying from the ground. One way or another, you’re going to have to actually get up onto the airplane and fly. It’s going to be tough, and you will be scared, but by using some of these techniques, you should be able to manage it. And then, you will land at your destination safely. Most likely, you’ll have to get back on a plane not long after, for what is known as the “return flight.” And you’ll find something amazing. The fear will be less. It might not be gone entirely, but it will be less. Having already done it once before, your brain will no longer put flying in the unknown zone of your brain. You’ve already done it once, at this point, doing it again will be much easier. And the more that you fly, the less that fear will be. At a certain point, fears are unsustainable. If you face a fear over and over, no matter how intense and ingrained that terror may be, it cannot last. One day, you will be free of your fear, and all it takes is the initial courage to set your fear aside.
- GQ – How to Get Over a Fear of Flying
- Travel and Leisure – 12 Steps to Getting Over Your Fear of Flying
- ADAA – 8 Steps to Overcoming Your Fear of Flying