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Are you afraid of flying? Is your mind racing even before you’ve entered the airplane? You’re not alone. Flying anxiety is one of the most common fears, and I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to suffer with it.
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There are ways to control and even overcome your flight anxiety. Even if you’re a really nervous flyer, you can learn to get used to flying and eventually relax completely. Let’s take a look at a few fear of flying tips that can really help you conquer (or, at the very least, ease off) your plane anxiety.
Table of Contents
12 steps to get over your flying anxiety
1. Prepare yourself and know the facts
Getting to know the facts and statistics always helps me through anxiety. Numbers are tangible. You can rely on them. And when it comes it safety in the air, odds are in our favor:
Numbers are on your side – Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) data shows that there’s a 1 in 11 million chance of you being involved in an airplane accident. And even if you’re in an accident, 96 percent of passengers survive. That’s a fact. The important thing to know is that the numbers are always on your side. Knowing the facts can really help reduce your flying anxiety.
Facts like these:
- No plane has ever been taken down by turbulence
- A plane can handle 100x more turbulence than the highest amount of turbulence ever recorded
- Planes almost always falter during the first two minutes or final 30 seconds of a flight
Airplanes undergo extensive safety testing – Another thing to remember is that a plane will not take off if it’s unfit to fly. This just doesn’t happen. Every plane is checked and tested before each flight to ensure that nothing will go wrong. And before you start wondering, well, what about turbulence or storms that can’t always be foreseen?
No plane has ever been taken down by turbulence or a storm. I know I’ve already said this but it bears repeating. The plane you fly on has been tested, deemed fit to fly, and can handle anything mother nature throws at it!
Familiarise yourself with the plane and the noises – Knowing where the exit is and which seat you’ll be in can help calm your nerves. It’s also a good idea to know the different airplane noises. For instance: When you’re about to take off , you’ll hear a light pound from under the plane followed by a drill noise like the plane is about being repaired – is it time to panic? No, the staff is just closing the cargo hold door. If you know these sounds beforehand, you’ll be much more relaxed when you’re on the plane. You can hear all the various airplane noises right here.
Get seats closer to the front – If you book a seat towards the front of the plane, you’ll experience less turbulence. Once again, turbulence cannot damage a plane, but it can still trigger your flying anxiety, so it’s best to avoid it if possible. And booking a seat at the front is a great way to do that.
2. Avoid disaster movies
This one’s a no-brainer. Watching disaster movies or reading up on plane crashes is going to have a serious impact on your plane anxiety if you’re a nervous flyer. There’s no reason to make your flying anxiety worse, is there? So, avoid any movies and pictures that might scare you.
3. Think positive
You’d be amazed what you can convince yourself of. A lot of our anxieties simply come from overthinking, or repeated nervous experiences. And before you know it, you’ve convinced yourself to be afraid or anxious. You can train yourself to switch this around by thinking positive. Just remember the facts and take your mind off the plane by thinking about your holiday plans. Are you going swimming? Are you getting a massage the minute you step off the plane? Focus on that, if you can.
Another idea is to read a book or watch a movie. You can distract yourself from your fear of flying with a few repeat happy thoughts. It really does work.
4. Arrive early
If you’re rushing to check in and get through security, your flying anxiety is likely to get worse. You need to cultivate a relaxed environment, have time to eat and buy some snacks or shop at the duty-free stores.
Take your time, get used to the airport, and enjoy the excitement in the air. Give yourself way more time than you need, just to ensure that you don’t get more worked up than you need to be. This is one of the best fear of flying tips I can give you. If you can get comfortable with the airport, it’s a step closer to getting comfortable with flying.
Picturing yourself in a safe, comfortable place can be a powerful antidote to anxiety. Just like I said before: happy thoughts. Picture your plane taking off and landing safely. This is a great way to convince yourself to stay positive. Imagine yourself having a great flight, enjoying some wine and snacks, watching a movie and reading your favourite book.
Try to focus on this image when you board the plane. Picture a smooth take off, then experience it. Picture a safe landing, look forward to it, then enjoy it when it happens.
6. Listen to calming music or meditate
When I say calming music, I really mean whatever music calms you down – which, of course, is different for everyone. Have some of your favourite relaxing or feel-good music saved and loaded ready to go before you board. Then, once you’re on, put your headphones on and zone out the world. That’s the key fear of flying help here: zoning out the world; going to your happy place.
If music doesn’t do that for you, then try meditating instead. If you can calm yourself and go to a safe space through meditation, there’s no better place to do so than on a plane. If you know a few weeks ahead of time that you’ll be flying soon, get some practice in for a while and then try your meditation out when you’re on the plane. You can use an app for it, like this one.
7. Remind yourself who’s the boss!
This might sound silly, but it’s like that old trick: smile for 30 seconds, even if you don’t feel happy, and you’ll convince yourself that you are. Self-confidence works the same way if you have flying anxiety: remind yourself that you’re tough. That you’re strong. That flying is something everyone does all the time, and that you’re as strong and as confident as anyone else! You can do this. Of course you can.
There are specific breathing exercises that can get you out of your anxious head, calm your heart rate, soothe your muscles, and even help you forget where you are. A great mindfulness breathing exercise goes like this:
- Find a comfortable sitting position
- Close your eyes
- Take a few long breaths, in through your nose and out through the mouth
- Focus your attention on the breath: notice how it’s cool going in and warm going out
- Concentrate all your focus on the act of breathing. Nothing else exists; just the breath
- Continue this for a while and the breath will become automatic, but keep your focus on it
- You’ll find yourself slipping into a calm and meditative state
9. Avoid coffee
It might be tempting, especially on a long-haul flight, but don’t do it. Coffee will irritate your anxiety, speed up your heart rate, put too much tension into your muscles. Instead, allow yourself to feel drowsy and relaxed. Eat some snacks and stay super hydrated with just water.
One of the very best fear of flying tips is to remember that your mind and body need to be taken care of. So, take care of them. try to avoid coffee.
10. Bring a care package
I always bring a little care package when I fly. One that includes: noise cancelling headphones, snacks, iPad, moisturiser, a great book and a neck pillow. This is everything you need to feel completely happy and comfortable. A flight is a great chance to dig into your favourite book or enjoy your favourite album undisturbed.
11. Be proud of yourself (you did it!)
This is the very first thing you should do after the flight: give yourself a high-five! You did it! And it was good, wasn’t it? You can do it again, can’t you? You did it because you’re the boss! And you can fly without issue! It’s no big deal; it’s just flying; and you did it!
12. Plan your next trip
Now that you’ve done it, and you’ve proven to yourself that you can do it, go for it again! The more you fly, the easier it will become. This is important to remember. Flying can become ordinary and routine for you. And then you have nothing left to fear!
More fear of flying help
Talk to a professional
If your fear of flying feels like more than you can handle, then I would definitely recommend talking to a professional. That’s what they’re here for, after all. And when it comes to flying anxiety, a professional can really help you conquer your fears and allow you to have a normal flying experience. You don’t need to let your flight anxiety control you.
O.K, so you’ve tried any other option. Now, it’s time to bring out the big guns.
A pre-trip glass of wine or a Melatonin is best for this. Giving yourself extra melatonin can really help you relax. Melatonin is a hormone we all produce to help regulate our body clock. A little extra can help you unwind on a flight and feel very zen. It works far more effectively and is much safer than sleeping pills.
However, if you’re a frequent flier, I wouldn’t recommend relying on pills or alcohol to get through the experience, you’re just reinforcing bad behavior. Instead, talk to a professional about your fear of flying, so you can find a solution that works long-term.