How to Tackle Flight Anxiety


Just as one succumbs to the many social phobias, one of the most common out of those is flight anxiety. The phobia of flying compels you to fear crashing, among other disasters that would involve you, or have a claustrophobic effect on the fear, like feeling trapped in the airplane. Panic attacks are common too. Commonly termed as Aviophobia, flight anxiety is easy to understand and tackle. One must acknowledge that the fear exists and avoid resorting to sedatives, alcohol or tranquilizers to get through a flight. Here are some helpful ways to get you through the flight comfortably and with ease:

Stop Anticipating

People who fear flying typically experience a lot of anticipation and dread in the days, weeks, and even months ahead of a scheduled flight. Picturing anything imaginable that is related to a lot of ‘what ifs’ or dreary pictures of catastrophes whenever they see a plan above them, is some of the common results of such anticipation. This often leads to them over-thinking about how to get around, or away from, that problem. This in turn leads them to worry, lose sleep, and cancel their plans to fly. Relieving the negative influence of this anticipation is a key step in overcoming the fear of flying.


Avoidance is Addictive

The more fear you feel, the more likely you are to stop flying altogether, or fly only when it’s practically unavoidable. Each time they cancel a flight, or decide instead to schedule another driving vacation, people with flight anxiety experience some relief from that avoidance. This avoidance can get addictive. They come to feel the avoidance has protected them in some way, and find that they become more and more phobic over time. Reversing the avoidance, and getting some practice with what you fear, is another key step in overcoming the fear of flying.

Do not Fear the Turbulence

Turbulence may feel uncomfortable, but it is up to you to take charge of your nerves and control your fear. You can also practice facing similar turbulence in, say, your vehicle the next time you are driving down the road. Accustom yourself into believing that flight turbulences are similar bumps in the air and that it doesn’t need to get you concerned.

Trust the Flight Crew

When you board the plane, mention to the flight attendants that sometimes you get a little nervous about flying. You can even ask them if you can visit the pilots. Contrary to the notion that pilot would not welcome anybody, they are happy to have visitors, and the flight attendants know this. Ask questions and mention your nervousness, they will understand and reassure you. This is important because the pilot’s confidence is contagious. However, make sure that you make this request only while the plane is on ground, not in flight.

Believe that Flying is Routine

Many people take comfort in going to the local airport to watch all the planes takeoff and land. After a while you begin to see that the flight operations are indeed routine. Others like to study the ARRIVAL and DEPARTURE monitors in the airport terminal to see just how many flights operate safely. A little bit of this exercise will rid you of a few unconditional fears, if not all.


Think Positively

Always try to keep your thoughts in the present. Keep your thoughts positive. When you catch yourself thinking negatively, stop, and concentrate on the positive. Many people dwell on what might happen instead of what is happening. It can be easy to play a “disaster movie” in your mind and you are the in the starring role! When you catch yourself starting the production of one of these imaginary “disaster movies” turn off the projector. Try to occupy your mind with something more constructive. Read, do a puzzle, strike up a conversation.

Take Control of Your Body and Mind

As soon as you feel any form of anxiety creeping in, try being aware of your body. When you feel muscles that are tense or tight, you can relax them. You will be surprised at how your muscles feel warm and relaxed, and you once again feel in control. Quite often, people who have a fear of flying also have a strong or overactive imagination. In fact, it is the imagination that leads to most of the crippling anxiety. For example, they might hear an unfamiliar noise during the flight, and begin imagining what might be wrong with the plane to cause this noise. Just remember that you are not a psychic and focus on the reality. Another factor in keeping control of your mind is to take charge of your breath. Usually, during the fear period, your breathing quickens and the heart races. To calm yourself, first push your stomach outward. Take a slow, deep breath through your nose. Try to fill your lungs from the bottom up. Pause, and then exhale slowly. Do this a couple of times and you’ll feel much better. Practice your controlled breathing whenever you can. Try it whenever you feel tense. Slow, deep breathing is the easiest and most effective method for calming yourself.