Flying thousands of miles can give most people anxiety. People who fear flying feel helpless thinking that it doesn’t feel natural for a 300-ton pack of metal parts to defy gravity and float through the air. Flying in an aeroplane can make you fearful that you could drop out of the sky at any moment.
We think it is best to deal with anxiety sooner rather than later and start enjoying the benefits and convenience of air travel. The fact is, aeroplanes are some of the safest modes of transportation in the world. You are more likely to die from a car accident than you are from a plane. Yet, people typically do not feel anxious about getting into a car for a seven-hour cross-country road trip.
In-flight anxiety can be crippling and debilitating, but it is possible to get over this fear. For some, it can go away quickly; for others, it may take several months of flying experience before they feel confident in air travel. Here are some things you can do to help you ease your anxiety.
Speak with crew and pilots before the flight
It is a great idea to have a chat with cabin crew and pilots before the flight. It will help you relax and feel more confident. Most of the crew are well experienced and can give you some great tips on how to relax on the flight and by identifying yourself and an anxious flyer they will be able to check on you during the flight.
Choose window seat and don't close your window blind
Sit by the window, open your eyes wide, relax and enjoy the view. As bizarre as it sounds, seeing outside will help you stop 'feeding' your fear of the "unknown" and as a bonus you can enjoy beautiful views.
Choose a seat at the front of the airplane
If you have an opportunity to choose your seat, choose one at the front of the airplane. If you sit at the front, you are less likely to feel turbulence during the flight as the front of the plane has less motion even on windy days.
Study your safety procedures
One way to deal with your anxiety is to educate yourself about what to do in case your worst fears come true. For cabin crew, that means dealing with situations like severe turbulence or emergency landings. Their job training will involve hours of safety training to deal with situations that are unlikely to happen, but having the knowledge and awareness can helps take control of your emotions and manage anxieties. So make sure you study the safety procedure thoroughly and pay attention to safety briefing.
Practice deep breathing exercises
Stressful situations can make you forget to breathe correctly. To think clearly, we need to make sure our brain receive enough oxygen. Our lungs need to take in an adequate amount of air to transfer oxygen to our blood cells. Keeping our blood oxygen levels high ensures our organs are functioning at peak performance. Practice inhaling deeply through your nose while allowing your chest and diaphragm to expand. Hold your breath in for seven to ten seconds, then release the air slowly through pursed lips. Repeat this motion several times until you feel calmer and more at ease.
Distract your self by multitasking
Feel anxious on take off or landing? Grab yourself an in-flight magazine! Choose any article and start reading. Read few sentences and then look out through the window, then come back to reading. Repeat! By multitasking you will distract yourself from your fear.
Skip the caffeine
Many people like to enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning to wake themselves up from grogginess and sleepiness. Caffeine in drinks like coffee and some soft drinks will cause your heart to beat faster, pumping more blood around your body, and making you feel awake and alert. Too much caffeine however, can overstimulate your nerves and make you experience heart palpitations. It can also make you feel jittery and unable to relax. When you are in a stressful situation, you need to remain calm and in control of your senses. Forego the caffeine and drink plenty of water instead.
Visualise your destination
Practice meditation in times you feel most stressed or fearful. Before your flight, take some time to sit quietly and stabilise your breathing. Imagine yourself going through pre-flight procedures, the plane taking off, performing your tasks, and then picture the aircraft landing safely at your destination. When you visualise your ideal outcomes, you can relax your nerves and allow yourself to focus on the positive aspects of your trip.
Listen to your favourite music
Music is always a great tool to relax. If you start feeling anxious on the flight, put your headphones and turn on your favourite playlist. The louder The better! But don't forget to be considered and check if your music does not disturb others.
Find yourself a "Stress Human"
If you are travelling with someone, start interesting conversation. The conversation will distract you from being anxious and will help you relax. In case you are travelling alone, you can always start a conversation with the person next to you.
Discuss your fear openly
People who try to keep their emotions bottled up may find themselves reaching a tipping point later on. Denying that you have doubts or anxieties may only prevent you from developing a healthy attitude towards your fears. Be open with others about what you are afraid of. Crew may have more experience that you can draw from, and they may offer you support when you need it most.
Keep in mind that many people spend thousands of hours in the air without experiencing an untoward incident. Fear will prevent you from doing many things if you allow it to control your thoughts and emotions. Acknowledge your weaknesses and take active steps to confront them. You might find yourself overcoming your fears sooner than you think.
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If you have a great tip how to you manage your fear of flying, please share in the comments below!