Fear of flying can range from mild concern to a powerful and over-powering fear that makes it impossible to even step foot on to an aeroplane. To see where your own flying anxiety comes into the spectrum try drawing a line with mild anxiety at one end and someone who won’t get on a plane at the other, and the person who gets onto a plane only when there is real need to do so in the middle. Now have a think about where you fall on this line.
Fear of flying is surprisingly widespread with about 1 in 5 people experiencing some sort of fear associated with flying. It is possible however to learn how to manage most fears, you don’t have to learn to live with them or avoid flying; you can instead dissolve the fear in a number of ways.
• Airline Courses
• Counselling and Talk Therapy
• Self Help
For many people however, if the fear is only mild then it is this last item which is of primary help and there are many tips you can try to help you relax and feel more in control and less fearful when you fly. Don’t be ashamed of your fear – it is quite common.
Relaxation – learn some relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises, yoga, or centring. These will help you to calm yourself both in preparation and when you find yourself feeling fearful.
Write down all the various aspects of your journey from travelling to the airport at one end to leaving the airport after landing and see if you can work out which specific elements frighten you. Once you’ve established this, you will be likely to find yourself less frightened during the other stages of flying.
De-sensitisation and practice can be used by some people to help them. Watch films of planes taking off and landing, look at pictures of the inside of planes and visit aviation museums and airports to watch actual planes taking off and landing.
Learning can take the fear out of things for many people so find out how things work. Practice your calming relaxation techniques at any points where you find the fear creeping in.
Buy books about how to get over the fear and join online forums where you can talk to others about how they have learned to cope. In other words share techniques that other people have tried and found helpful.
When you are actually on a plane, talk to the people seated with you and the flight attendant. Distraction can help you to remain calm through the more difficult portions of your flight and having someone who knows how you are feeling and can help you to calm down if you struggle to do so alone is a good idea.
Eat properly before you fly – believe it or not your blood sugar levels can change how well you cope with stress. Have something to suck such as a boiled sweet during take off as this helps to balance the air pressure in your ears, and avoid drinking alcohol as this can affect you more than normal if you’re under stress and exaggerate your fears.
Think positive thoughts. Remember why you are getting on the plane and the goal you’re aiming for, and bear in mind that flying is about 10 times safer than climbing the stairs in your own home and you do that several times every day without incident!
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