We’ve all heard the wise words about focusing on the journey rather than the destination. Well, when it comes to flying, I really rather not.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a fear of flying. I never had a traumatic experience while flying or a memory of how the nerves all started. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever had a flight delayed for more than an hour. Nevertheless, I get extreme anxiety when the plane takes off. I clench to the armrests, images of a tragic crash flash through my brain, and I become completely silent. I relax a bit once the plane stabilizes but I can never get my mind off the fact that I am thousands of feet in the air and just moments away from a fatal plunge should the plane go haywire. Oh and turbulence, don’t even get me started on that.
So you can see why this would present as a problem for someone who loves to travel. In many cases, flying is simply the most convenient, efficient, and cost-effective way to go. There is really no avoiding it if you’ve been bitten by the wanderlust bug. Knowing very well that planes will continue to be a big part of my life, I knew I had to do something about my intense fear of flying. While I wouldn’t say that I have completely overcome my fear of flying, the following tips have helped me significantly in reducing my fears.
- Look at the facts. The probability that you will be involved in a plane accident is one in a million. No, really, the statistic is that the likelihood of a flight being involved in an accident is 1 in 1.2 million. And even if you are involved in an accident, the likelihood that you will be involved in a fatal plane crash is even more miniscule.
- Learn about flying. This is a biggie. Fears are often tied to the unknown. Consequently, the more knowledgeable you are about flying, the less you will be afraid of it. Do some research and learn more about how planes work. Learn the logistics behind how a plane is built, how it takes off, how it stays in flight, how it lands, how turbulence works, and how pilots are trained. During this process, you will likely have some bad myths busted and feel better about the awesome piece of machinery that’s going to help you see the world.
- Maximize your comfort. If you know you’re going to be in a state of constant anxiety for the next 5 hours, the last thing you need is additional discomfort. Dress in comfortable clothes and shoes, pack your own headphones, bring a neck pillow, snacks, whatever you need to optimize your comfort while on the plane.
- Entertain yourself. Lucky for us in this day age, technology has us covered. Make sure your phone, tablet, or laptop is packed with audiobooks, music, shows, and movies that you love. Or, bring a good book, crossword puzzles, whatever is good at grabbing and keeping your attention. The more focused you are reading or watching a movie, the less focused you’ll be on your nerves.
- Refer to the flight attendants. Flight attendants are your rocks during a flight. They have experienced it all so it is unlikely that they will be shaken. Each time I hear a strange noise or the plane hits some turbulence, I always look to the flight attendants. Their calm and collected demeanor puts me at ease because it tells me that it is all part of the flying experience and nothing to worry about.
- Picture yourself landing. If you’re anything like me, you have a vision of a fiery plane plummeting into the ocean. Not exactly happy thoughts while flying. Instead, picture yourself landing in the airport safely. You’ve arrived at your destination, grab your luggage, and walk out of the plane. Continue this vision in your mind to help you stay positive. Let your mind physically place you in the airport, vacation spot, or home. The idea is that you’ve arrived, safe and in one piece.