Here is how to overcome your fear of flying and see the world
Big travel dreams can come with big anxieties, including fears of:
- Crowded airports
- Airplane crashes
- Getting sick far from home
- Language barriers and more…
Recent news headlines do not help with people on United and American airlines getting beaten and dragged off of airplanes for no apparent reason.
You are not alone: Nearly 20,000,000 Americans want to overcome their fear of flying!
Flight anxiety (aviophobia) and a fear of travel more generally are common phobias affecting 6% of people. This anxious thinking is so powerful it can activate physical responses; shallow breathing, chest tightness, sweaty palms, nausea and lightheadedness. These symptoms can be exaggerated by lower than normal oxygen levels and air pressure in the cabin and higher levels of germ exposure from so many people in close quarters.
Travel can feel scary. However, you CAN get on an airplane and have a great trip!
6 STEPS TO OVERCOME YOUR FEAR OF FLYING (aviophobia)
1. LEARN THE FACTS OF AIRPLANE SAFETY
I’m sure you’ve been told driving is more dangerous than flying. Well the more you find out the facts for yourself, the lower your flight anxiety will be.
- There’s a one in 11-million chance of being involved in an airplane accident, and even then, 96 percent of passengers survive airline accidents – Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
- Airplanes undergo extensive safety testing, including wing flexibility, exposure to extreme temperature and more. You are way safer in a plane than in your own home.
- Safety training is mandatory every 6 months for the pilot and co-pilot
Check out this Lifehacker link for more safety facts:
In addition to reading up on safety statistics, educate yourself on the physics of flying and how planes work, in general. Without knowledge, anxiety leads us to make up worst case scenarios for every bump and jitter that an airplane makes.
2. ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR FEAR AND REASSURE YOURSELF
It’s ok to be worried. You can still overcome your fear of flying. It’s the “worst case” thinking that really gets you. Any thought you repeat (i.e. I’m not in control, the airplane could crash) over and over again you will eventually believe and be anxious about.
Shift the thought from “I’m not in control, the airplane could crash” to “I know flying scares me, but this plane has taken thousands of safe trips. I am safe.” Repeat this to yourself over and over, every time you begin to have a negative thought. Try an easy to repeat mantra like “I am safe. I am in good hands.” Eventually this will replace your old thinking.
3. GET FAMILIAR WITH THE AIRPLANE
Ask to be the first onboard and ask for a peak inside the cockpit (the staff is usually happy to oblige before take-off.
A plane has never crashed due to turbulence. Turbulence is a normal part of flying for birds and for people in airplanes. Be prepared for it and don’t let a little jolt scare you.
If you want to take a deep dive into aeronautics and aviophobia there are even flight schools for that: https://fearofflyingschool.com/airplane-turbulence.
4. DISTRACT YOUR MIND – MEDITATE
Even a short flight will give plenty of time for panic to set in. Before leaving, create a nice long checklist of things to do while in the sky, and then slowly check those items off the list.
Media: Download a favorite TV show (or five) to watch, read a magazine, play sudoku, brush up on language skills (especially if you are going to a foreign country), create some social media posts to celebrate your accomplishment.
Headphones: Use noise-canceling headphones and play your favorite music if the sounds of airplane engines or passengers add to your anxiety.
Visualize the Goal: Imagine arriving at your destination and relaxing somewhere calm and beautiful. Imagine that it is exactly like a favorite place you have already been to, only better.
Meditate: Download a meditation app like Headspace and spend five minutes relaxing your mind and body.
Breathe: If you do start feeling panicked, focus on your breath. Anxious breathing is often fast and shallow. Slow it all down and focus on breathing in and out slowly and deeply. It will clear your mind and increase the oxygen getting to your brain.
These techniques take some practice but they are how to overcome your fear of flying.
Supplements serve two functions:
- Relieve anxiety, naturally
- Protect from common flight illnesses (colds, headaches, nausea), naturally
B-Vitamins: B12 is the most common, but all B vitamins may have an effect on anxiety. B-vitamins are connected to your nervous system, so studies indicate that supplementing B vitamins can also improve anxiety outlook
Ginkgo Biloba Ginkgolides in ginkgo biloba have been shown to have anti-anxiety effects. A 2007 clinical trial published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research found people treated with ginkgo had significantly lower anxiety symptoms compared to study members given a placebo
Vitamin C: Was shown to reduce incidence of colds in 50% of people under short term physical stress
White Willow Bark: Also known as nature’s aspirin (only gentler on your stomach) has been shown to relieve inflammation and pain such as from headaches
Ginger: Ginger is widely used for nausea relief and as an anti-inflammatory. It is considered a natural remedy for motion sickness. Ginger relaxes the smooth muscle in your gut lining, helping food move through the body.
ALL IN ONE recommendation: There is a premium travel vitamin designed specifically for flyers with all of these supplements in one: FLYGOOD IMMUNE BOOST
6. MEDICATE (AS A LAST RESORT)
Taking pharmaceuticals is not a recommendation for overcoming your fear of flying (aviophobia). This is your emergency, last resort option. If you follow steps 1 to 5, you should get through your flight like a champ.
That said, sometimes it helps just to know you’ve got a knock-out pill in your back pocket even if you don’t use it. Valium, Klonopin or similar will numb your senses. Talk to a doctor before going this route.
Pills and medication won’t cure your fear of flying for the flight back or the next trip after that. Like most drugs, anxiety pills come with a host of potential side effects.
That is how to overcome your fear of flying. Stick to the plan and you will have a wonderful time wherever you go.
Good luck and happy travels… it’s worth it!