It’s not uncommon to feel anxious before a flight. In fact, 25% of Americans report feeling a certain level of fear when it comes to flying.
Another 6.5% of fliers suffer from aviophobia, which is an extreme fear of flying.
Whether you’re crippled by fear before take-off, can’t step foot on a plane, or get a few butterflies when boarding, this article’s for you.
Here we’ll offer tips and advice for handling and beating flight anxiety so that your next trip in the friendly skies is an enjoyable one.
Fasten your seat belt and put your seat in the upright position as we cover six ways to defeat flight anxiety.
1. Learn Your Triggers
Your first line of defense against flight anxiety is recognizing your triggers. When you pinpoint exactly what part of flying makes you nervous, you can take steps to address it.
For some people, it’s take-off and landing. Others get nervous when the plane experiences turbulence or are more worried about the spread of germs than the actual flight.
Once you identify your trigger, you can better prepare yourself to face it.
Practice breathing exercises during take-off or landing. Play music during turbulence. Wear a medical mask to protect yourself from unwanted germs.
Identifying your flight anxiety triggers and ways to cope helps you feel more in control of the situation.
2. Trust the Professionals
There’s some comfort in knowing that your plane is piloted by an experienced, highly-trained pilot. All of the airline staff are also trained in handling unforeseen emergencies.
Flight anxiety is often more about not feeling in control of your destiny than the actual fear of flying itself. Remind yourself that the flight crew is made up of trained professionals. All aircraft are also run through numerous safety checks prior to take-off.
Focus more on the things you can control like your breathing, following the safety instructions, and even your seat. Nervous fliers might do better in first-class or an exit row where there’s more legroom.
This helps reduce feelings of claustrophobia which, might add to your stress.
3. De-Stress Before and During the Flight
Learning how to de-stress is essential for defeating flight anxiety. Think of how you relax in other stressful situations in your everyday life.
Does going to the doctor make you anxious? Do you get nervous before job interviews or tests?
Different methods work for different people but common ways of de-stressing before a flight include:
- Breathing exercises
- Having an alcoholic beverage
- Taking medication
The last two items on this list are only recommended for those who are of age or using medication prescribed by a doctor. It’s important to remember that most airlines will not allow you to board a plane if you’re visibly impaired (i.e. drunk, disorientated, etc.). Use these tactics to help relax, not become intoxicated.
Breathing exercises are a great way to calm both your mind and body. Close your eyes and take long, calming breaths. These exercises can also relieve headaches, stomachaches, and nausea related to stress.
Bring activities on the plane to help distract yourself during the flight. Magazines, books, coloring pages, games, or music help you focus on something other than your anxiety.
4. Check the Weather
There are certain things in life you can’t control and the weather is one of them. Some flights take-off on a gorgeous, clear day with no wind whereas others have to contend with heavy rains, wind, and even snow.
Researching the weather for the day of your flight lets you know what to expect. Even on the clearest days, turbulence is possible.
Turbulence is sometimes caused by clouds or changes in the air currents. These are uncontrollable factors.
Download a special weather app that lets you know the flying conditions for that day. This tells you how much turbulence to expect and helps you feel more prepared.
Often times, the unknown is what unnerves fliers more than anything else. Do a little research beforehand so that those bumps and dips in-flight don’t come as a surprise.
5. Accept Your Feelings
They say that acceptance is the first step to recovery. While it’s not healthy to give in to your flight anxiety, fighting your feelings can actually make matters worse.
You’ve already identified your triggers. Now, it’s time to face them head-on.
Instead of telling yourself, “Don’t be scared” or “Stop being nervous”, coach yourself through your anxiety.
Prepare yourself by saying things like, “We’re taking off now. Once we hit altitude things will smooth out.” Use a breathing exercise or other diversion to get you through your most anxious moments.
Give yourself pep talks and remind yourself that you’re strong and capable of overcoming your anxiety.
6. Educate Yourself on Plane Safety
One of the main things people with flight anxiety focus on is the safety of the plane. To those with anxiety, every bump, dip, and noise is a sign that the plane is about the crash.
Remember that traveling by plane is actually one of the safest ways to travel. In fact, there are more than 5 million car crashes annually compared to only 20 aircraft accidents.
Need more proof? The likelihood of being involved in a plane crash are 1 in 3 million.
Another way to ease your mind and anxiety is to educate yourself about the physical plane you’re on. Where are the emergency exits, flotation devices, and oxygen located?
Pay close attention during the flight crew’s safety demonstration and ask questions about any unclear information.
You can also perform research on the aircraft and what flying will feel and sound like before your flight. This way, you’ll know what to expect when you hear a certain noise or feel a sensation that might’ve otherwise added to your anxiety.
Say Good-Bye to Flight Anxiety
Are you ready to kiss your flight anxiety good-bye? These tips will help you take control of your fears and handle them with grace.
Now, you can embrace the fun and excitement of flying.
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