Have you always dreamed of a certain vacation? Maybe you imagine you and your lover walking hand-in-hand along the shore as the waves tickle your feet, or you and your family in an open Jeep touring the Serengeti with wildlife surrounding you.
But there is one problem: to get to that dream vacation, you’re going to have to fly there.
From claustrophobia to fear of turbulence, it’s not uncommon to experience pre-flight anxiety. Plus, if you tune in to the nightly news, you’ve probably been bombarded with terrifying stories of planes disappearing over the ocean or having an engine unexpectedly stop working while in the sky. This may be one large cause of a fear of flying.
With all of the news stories, it’s no wonder that 70% of people boarding a plane have some fear of doing so.
Yet, no matter how intimidating it is, most of us are going to have to learn how to overcome a fear of flying sooner or later. While you might be able to swap out extended road trips for flying when traveling around the US or Canada, there may be a time when you have to go overseas, or another when there’s an emergency and you must fly to get to your loved ones quickly.
If you’re wondering how to overcome your fear of flying, you’ve come to the right place. Just as with almost any fear, overcoming a fear of flying is unlikely to happen overnight. It can take hard work and dedication, but if you are ready and willing to try, you might just be able to leave that dread behind you and get on with living your life.
How to Overcome Your Fear of Flying
1. Learn the Stats
Did you know that flying is the safest form of travel that there is? In the United States, you’re 2,000 times more likely to die in a car crash than on a plane flight over your lifetime. When you think about it, you’re likely in more danger when you drive to the airport than when you take off on a plane!
While this isn’t to say that flying has no danger, it is one of the safest ways that you can get from point A to point B. And over the years, flying has just been getting safer, a trend that is likely to continue as technology advances.
Understanding the risks before you get on the plane can help you use your knowledge to overcome your fear. It might not get rid of a racing heart during takeoff and turbulence, but knowing that flying is one of the safest things that you can do can help.
2. Employ Relaxation Techniques
When you get on the plane and are in your seat waiting to take off, use strategies that can relax your body and mind and combat negative thoughts. Do you find that certain things comfort you? Maybe you find flying with your dog or cat helpful in avoiding anxiety attacks, or you might do well with holding the hand of the person next to you when you’re feeling anxious. Find what helps you relax and use it.
3. Identify Your Triggers
When you experience anxiety and fear, it is caused by a trigger. Triggers can be anything, from memories and thoughts to physical sensations or things that you see. When it comes to flying, some common triggers include take-off, landing, turbulence, small spaces, being far from the ground, and germs, among other things.
By identifying your triggers, you can begin to take back control before your anxiety levels become high. This can help you mentally prepare for the times when your fear will be at its highest and come up with strategies for how to cope.
4. Turn Your Attention Inwards
When you find yourself experiencing anxiety and fear, turn your attention inwards. Rather than thinking about how severe the turbulence is or wondering when it might end, for example, turn your focus towards ways to cope with your anxiety. This might be via holding hands with the person next to you, listening to calming music that you enjoy, or envisioning being in a calm place that makes you happy (like sitting on the beach).
5. Inform Your Fellow Travelers
If you’re traveling alone, it can be helpful to talk to those sitting next to you before the plane takes off to let them know that you have a fear of flying. They might be able to provide emotional support during the tough times and help you know that you’re not alone when you’re flying.
6. Talk to a Therapist
It can be extremely difficult to overcome fear without help. Therapists can work with you one-on-one to determine what triggers you and why. From there, you can develop different strategies to cope with and overcome your fears.
You are Not Alone in Your Fear
If you have a fear of flying, know that you’re not alone and that there are things that you can do to get better. Try speaking with a professional, learning coping strategies, and finding your triggers as first steps towards conquering your fear. Your flight anxiety is unlikely to disappear overnight, but with dedication and hard work, you can get there over time.