How to Overcome Your Fear of Flying

Nov 2018

If you suffer from fear of flying, you might know a thing or two about anxiety. It comes and goes but the truth is, this feeling of fear and dread never really goes away for most people. This is also a process or experience that seems to go on forever:

Do you know how nervous it can be the night before a flight?

Can you remember the deep sense of fear on the way to the airport?

Sweaty hands on the runway…..

Indeed, this is a terrifying feeling and an unavoidable experience for those who tolerate it.

That is to say, this feeling is not something we cannot control. After all, to tolerate a fear of flying is to allow the existence of this terror and this obviously suggests that the ability to alleviate this fear is within the power of the person who feels it.

What is Fear of Flying Exactly?

In case you might be asking yourself, fear of flying refers to when a person has a fear of being in a flying vehicle of any kind. In this sense, it can also be known as a flying phobia.

Commercial flights are a common trigger for this awful feeling. Whether you fly for the purpose of vacation or work or any other matter, the feeling is always the same. Most often, the fear can arise when a person is either afraid of a plane crash or having a panic attack on the flight itself.

Statistics for Fear of Flying

As always, the statistics for fear of flying tell a story. One in three British people are more afraid of flying today, than they were a decade ago. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, at least 5% of the world population suffers from a fear of flying. Meanwhile, in the United States, recent studies show that more than 10% of people are afraid to fly.

Either way, the feeling is always the same, although sometimes worse than others.

But that’s just one part of the story…

How to Overcome a Fear of Flying

Because fear is a feeling and feelings can be alleviated in the short term and even erased over the long term. You see, it must be remembered that fear and feelings are something over which humans have control. While this fear can feel almost tangible at times, the truth is, this fear is merely down to perceived danger and nothing real.

In other words, as with any feeling, fear of flying is not ingrained and something that you can eventually remove from your life.

Now: You might think that distractions are the best way to approach a fear of flying. However, contrary to this popular belief, suppressing this fear is futile. Instead, the best way to deal with a fear of flying is to know the facts, accept the reality and come with a clean sheet of tactics.

Here are some tips and advice on how to treat a fear of flying:

Pre Flight Pep Talk

Instead of avoiding the inevitable, think about the upcoming flight but try to re-frame these thoughts. For example, try focusing on the facts at hand and know that nothing drastic is likely to happen, ever.

After all, wings don’t just fall off, engine failure can be managed, and even without both engines, a plane can still fly a great distance before it needs to land.

Book a Seat Near the Front

Simply put, there are less bumps at the front of an airplane. Think about it in the same way that you might experience a bumpy bus journey, the most turbulent section of the bus is always the very front or back.

Avoid Alcohol, Coffee and Soda

In other words, drink water before and during the flight. Alcohol will often have a negative impact on the nervous system while both coffee and soda are terrible for nerves. Needless to say, anything with caffeine is bad in a situation like this and the same can be said for sugar.

Writing Your Name

It may sound strange and this is certainly unorthodox but an experienced airline pilot in the US advises that writing your name down can alleviate stress. To be more specific, Captain Ron Neilsen says that you should try to write your name down repeatedly, with your non-dominant hand. Apparently, this process requires a lot of concentration which can help you stay pragmatic in a time of stress.

Breathe through straw

Another old trick that comes straight from the cockpit is to breathe through a straw. When you learn to breathe for extended periods through a straw, you reduce the amount of airflow to the lungs and hence, this should prevent you from hyperventilating and calm down your nerves.

Getting Rid of Your Fear of Flying

Most things in life are easier said than done and this is certainly true for a fear of flying. You can ignore it or even avoid it but in truth, you will likely need to face it again some day. More importantly, air travel is so convenient and safe that you are doing yourself a dis-service by not facing this fear and seeking to calm the process.

With this in mind, anyone who suffers from a fear of flying should do whatever it takes to control it. Sure, the process is likely to be tricky and scary for a while yet but when you can finally manage the feeling, life is suddenly a lot easier.

At the same time, this is not professional advice and these words are only intended to be helpful. In the event of you having serious issues with a fear of flying, consulting your local doctor is always the best way forward.

Either way, now you know that this fear can be managed, you can hopefully have the courage to face and overcome your fear of flying.