Many travelers suffer from some degree of anxiety while flying. Do your love traveling, but the idea of getting on a plane makes you sweat? Fortunately, you aren’t the only one experiencing distress. In recent polls, up to 40% of the general population experiences flight-related anxiety.
Flight anxiety or aviophobia is a fear of flying that prevents people from flying. Also, it may cause significant discomfort and nervousness when in the air.
Stress and anxiety may also come from a fear of heights or being enclosed for too long or claustrophobia. Only considering the worst-case scenario, many people end up being terrified of flying.
A person experiencing flight anxiety may display irritability, nausea (or motion sickness), disorientation, and flushed skin. In extreme situations, it may lead to panic attacks. Hence, it is essential to identify options to address flight anxiety.
If you are also experiencing flight anxiety and are determined to cope with it, here are 10 tricks that’ll help you overcome your fear.
1. Know What to Expect
For many travelers, it’s the fear of the unknown that causes anxiety while flying. One of the easiest things that travelers can do to prepare themselves for their next flight is to figure out what to expect when getting from point A to B. Essentially, by identifying important details of the journey, passengers may find some relief in knowing what to anticipate and be able to better manage their stress levels along the way.
To relieve some pre-flight anxiety, below is a list of various questions associated with flying that should be answered before taking off.
- How will you get to the airport?
- What’s the check-in process like?
- Have you reviewed a map of the airport?
- What are the duration of the flight from gate to gate and the overall flying time?
- Will there be any expected turbulence?
- What’s the flight pattern?
- Is it a direct flight?
- Do you know where you’ll be seated on the plane?
For many people with flight anxiety, the ideal seat sits along an aisle and has extra legroom. Also, make sure to bring a comfort kit which includes things like water, moist towelettes, snacks, gum, eye drops, earplugs, etc. Finally, in regards to entertainment, bring a book or a movie that you’ve been highly anticipating reading or watching.
Personally, Harry finds much relief by listening to his playlist before taking off and while flying. One of his favorite soundtracks is Mozart in Paris: Six Sonatas, Op. 1.
2. Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol Before Flight
Drinking coffee or alcohol before boarding a flight can increase anxiety levels and cause dehydration. Also, it might lead to nausea and headaches.
Caffeine stimulates cognitive function, making your body more attentive and alert to the surroundings. This behavioral response may keep you awake in flight and increase nervousness.
3. Distract Yourself From Noises
Distraction is a tried and tested way that prevents you from thinking about your fear and anxiety. Identify activities that will immerse your mind profoundly and keep you focused on the task. You can try reading your favorite book, watching a funny movie, or solving puzzles to take your mind off.
As most of the flight-related nervousness comes from the loud noises caused by turbulence, you can listen to soothing music with your headphones. It is an effective way to prevent anxious thoughts.
4. Talk to the Flight Crew
If you are worried about things getting out of control during flight, try spending a minute or two with your pilot or flight attendant. Since your anxiety is because of the fear of the unknown, meeting your flight crew will reassure you that your safety is on experienced hands.
Flight attendants are trained to create a friendly and warm environment, so sharing your nervousness and thoughts with your flight attendants can keep your anxiety in check.
5. Find Yourself an Aisle Seat
If the leading cause of your anxiety is the height or being confined to a small place, then your seat selection can help avoid those triggers.
Selecting a comfortable seat is mostly in your control so that you can request an aisle seat. This way you’ll have more open space to move around and can avoid the windows.
6. Learn Breathing Techniques
Regulating your breathing rate is another great way to beat flight anxiety. During flights, your heart rate increases, and the mind gets disillusioned. Tactical breathing helps you combat these symptoms and keeps you focused.
Maintain a relaxed posture and try taking a deep breath, hold it for a few seconds, and then breathe out. This will slow your heart rate and promotes a sense of calmness.
7. Embrace Positive Thoughts
Try to differentiate between anxiety and danger. Since your body responds similarly to both the citations, sometimes anxiety thoughts can trick you into believing that you are in danger. It might result in restlessness and nervousness.
Keep reminding yourself that these thoughts will pass through and you aren’t in danger. Try to visualize your destination and what you’d do once you reach it. It will make you feel calm and relaxed.
8. Try Visiting a Therapist
Seeking help from a therapist is another long-term and healthy remedy for your fear and anxiety. These mental health professionals use cognitive behavioral therapy and exposure to help you overcome your nervousness.
Professional therapists identify the psychological events that trigger anxiety during the flight and recommend ways to let go of them.
9. Keep Anti-Anxiety Medications on Hand
Medications are the most popular line of defense against flight anxiety. Anti-anxiety medications produce a tranquilizing effect that minimizes the mental and physical symptoms associated with flight anxiety. Make sure you visit your doctor well in advance for possible medication options.
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10. Invest in Regular Flying Classes
If you seek a long-term solution for your flight anxiety, taking a flying lesson is your perfect option. Flight classes make you face your fear and find ways to overcome it.
Flight classes simulate the real-time flight experience, providing a valuable understanding of what to expect during the flight. Regular flying lessons offer you knowledge about the plane and can help in eliminating those fearful thoughts.
Managing Your Anxiety While Flying
Being able to better manage your anxiety while flying will oftentimes boost your life and career. Fear and anxiety can prevent you from going on work trips or taking fabulous vacations. Even though flying or not flying is your personal preference, fighting the stress will certainly help you enjoy the holiday you deserve.
Try to implement the mentioned techniques and expose yourself to more flight experiences. With time and practice, you’ll be able to enjoy your flight trips without any fear.