Are you like the A-Team’s BA Baracus when it comes to flying? Well, the fear of flying is quite an irrational one – you’ve statistically got more chance of being killed crossing the street! A fear may have developed from a bad experience – for example having been on a rough flight, or seeing a news report of a plane hijacking or crash.
To some, the fear of flying may be an uncomfortable feeling that they’re able to hide, whereas others may be more vocal about it or even show signs of stress such as sweating and trembling – or even be so terrified that they stay completely grounded all the time.
So how can you overcome this?
Prepare well in advance for your flight
Being well-prepared for your flight can help to reduce the onset of your fear of flying. By making a checklist of all the important things that you need to take and then packing well in advance, you can avoid rushing unnecessarily – which will help to minimize your anxieties before the flight.
Get to the airport early
Setting off early will also prevent any unnecessary stress. Aim to get to the airport more than two hours before your flight, so that you won’t stress out too much if an unexpected delay comes up on your way to the airport. Arriving early will also give you time to find out exactly when and where to check in before your flight, and allow you to relax by visiting the airport shops or café.
Eat well before the flight
Before a long flight, ensure you have a decent meal. Your level of blood sugar can drop over the course of a long flight – especially at times of anxiety or stress, when your body will burn off more blood sugar than when you’re in a relaxed state. Also, don’t drink too much, as the atmosphere in the cabin is pressurized so the alcohol will affect you more than usual and could exaggerate your fears.
Learn to relax
Trying to relax on a flight will help to reduce your levels of stress. Try some deep breathing exercises and wear loose-fitting clothing. You could even consider taking an inflatable pillow with you for added comfort. Giving yourself some distractions will also help – so take some headphones, which will help to block out aircraft noises and allow your mind to wander, or try talking to other people around you.
Think positive thoughts
Think about your reason for traveling, so that you keep in mind the worthwhile goal at the end of your flight. Also, keep in mind that flying is around 10 times safer than climbing up the stairs at home and 21 times safer than driving – plus it’s estimated that you would have to take a flight every day for 30,000 years before you are likely to be in a fatal air crash! Remember these figures during your flight and you will feel a lot safer and more relaxed.
The threat of terrorism is quite real in modern times, but it’s not necessarily any worse than it was in the past. In fact, more stringent airport security checks nowadays mean that flying is probably much safer than it used to be. Acts of terrorism have taken place on trains and buses too – but the likelihood of it happening to you is still very slim.
Face up to your fear of flying
The fear of flying will not easily go away by itself, but recognizing that you have a problem can cause your fear to diminish. If you expect to be scared or have feelings of anxiety or awkwardness, you’ll be better able to handle them and not let them overcome you. Remember that other people may also have some anxieties about flying, even if they appear confident and relaxed – so you won’t be alone.
Tell the cabin crew if you suffer badly from a fear of flying. They can offer reassurance and explain to you at times about strange sounds during the flights, such as those caused by turbulence, the engines being slowed, or the wheels being lowered. This can be a great help for putting your mind at ease, as it will remind you that everything is under control.
Minimise the risk of an attack
If you’re someone who obsesses about the whole ‘fear of flying’ thing, then you might want to put your own mind at rest by minimizing the potential risks of flying. For example, you could opt for only non-stop flights to reduce the risks of accidents during takeoff or landing. Or you might want to opt for a seat near an emergency exit during the flight if this makes you feel any better. If that’s not possible, just be aware of the locations of the emergency exits and listen to the pre-flight instructions.
Talk to your doctor before flying
If your problem is particularly acute, consider talking to your doctor about it. He or she may be able to advise whether any relaxation techniques or medication would be helpful. Medication might include some form of relaxant drugs – but there is a general reluctance to prescribe anything for the treatment of fear of flying, as your fear is a natural reaction which can probably be better handled using relaxation techniques.
Consider some form of therapy
You might even want to seek a helping hand by attending some courses or counselling sessions to overcome your fear of flying. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy aims to help you to change the way that you think, feel and behave when you’re in a particular situation such as flying, and so this may be useful. Also, general counselling for any issues is usually available via your local health service.
Congratulate yourself when the flight is over
Remember to congratulate yourself when the flight is over for having got through the experience! Take notice of how you feel during each flight – for example, compare how you felt on the way home to how you felt on the flight out – as it’s likely that you’ll feel better after each successive flight.
A final word
It may seem like we’re stating the obvious, but worrying about flying is perfectly natural. People aren’t born with wings, after all, and so flying thousands of feet in the air is bound to cause concern! However, there’s really nothing to worry about, as the chances of something going wrong during any flight are extremely slim.
If you follow some of our tips above, you’ll soon be able to reduce or even conquer your fear of flying and launch yourself into the big blue. So why not book a flight now?