Of all the modes of transportation out there, airliners are the most safe. Yet despite this, quite a few folks out there experience some degree of nervousness and even fear over getting on a plane; there’s no truly hard data, but some estimates run as much as 33 to 40 percent, and for a much smaller percentage (perhaps five percent or so) it rises to downright panic – a condition known as aerophobia. This irrational fear of flying can bring on tension, angst, excessive sweating, general malaise, and even physical symptoms including elevated heart rate, nausea, and even vomiting. And whilst fear is powerful, our management of it can be even more so. Here are a half dozen good ways to do so:
Inform Yourself About What Happens During a Flight
Human beings are wired to experience fear and distrust the unknown, so it can be very helpful to have at least of basic knowledge of how aircraft function and how a flight unfolds.
Ask friends and family to tell you about their airplane experiences. For example, though they might tell you about inflight turbulence, you’ll soon realise that these episodes never end in accidents.
Anticipating what happens on a plane will avoid surprises. Knowing that turbulence or strange noises produced by the plane’s internal machinery are common will reduce your fear. But it likely won’t be enough to eliminate it altogether; being an emotional phenomenon, rational thought only goes so far against the powerful influence of emotion.
Also, don’t hesitate to consult a psychologist who specialises in phobias. In therapy you’ll will learn to rationalise this feeling – to breathe, control anxiety, and ultimately, modify your behavior when traveling.
Choose Your Seat Well
Which is the best airplane seat for someone with a fear of flying? The answer is one that offers the most peace of mind – generally that’s in or near the front, or an exit row. Seats in the rear are less recommendable, since when taking off this area takes away the perception of horizontality, reducing the feeling of stability. The front rows impart a greater sense of security by being close to professionals, capable of directing the situation in case of any unforeseen event. Comfort when traveling is essential to optimally control your fear of flying; So it’s recommended that you choose an aisle seat before the a window or middle seat – this way you will feel less enclosed.
Be Ready with ‘Self-Instructions’
Keep in mind that before you can calm your fear of flying, you’ll have to get through some uncomfortable moments. But one solution is to establish your own “action manual” just in case, and ready some effective personal methods through which you can reduce your fear.
Specifically, to be prepared, make a detailed list of possible incidents and their corresponding responses. Your “self-instructions” will manage your attention and reaction to any sign of fear. For example, in the event of possible turbulence you can establish a calm breathing technique that forces you to focus on its performance and not in the context of the situation. Thus you can distract your mind and manage the symptoms of fear and anxiety in a beneficial way.
Avoid Eating Foods with Fibre Before Flying
Before a flight, it’s recommended to eat a balanced diet and reducing high-energy foods as well as those rich in fiber or diuretics – this because that can force you to go to repeatedly to the bathroom, a place generally feared by people with a fear of flying.
Regarding hydration, the ideal is to avoid products with caffeine, which raise your the heart rate – already likely to be elevated as a symptom of fear. You might also consider natural remedies such as orange blossom water.
Fear manifests itself in different ways, and one of them is tension and angst. One way of dealing with these emotions is through objects. The Fidget Cube, for example, can help calm you by requiring your mental attention with its gears, rotating disk, buttons, gel ball, and joystick.
Other helpful devices to deflect attention away from the plane’s movements include the fidget spinner, a usually three-lobed structure that spins along a ball bearing with very little effort. Stress balls can also be useful in relieving tension.
Avail Yourself of Treatment Techniques
If you don’t not see yourself capable of facing your fear on your own, science can offer a number of solutions. Here are several of the most common techniques used by psychologists to treat aerophobia, some of which you can do on your own and others which are better used with the help of a therapist:
A number of these are out there, easily searchable, which can be especially help in control breathing – always the first step to avoid an attack of anxiety. For example, start with a simple one, inhaling through your nose instead of your mouth; concentrate on your midsection and on breathing softly; inhale deeply a couple of times and exhale very slowly through your mouth. There are also more complex techniques that involve relaxation of the muscles – one of these is Jacobson’s relaxation technique – also known as progressive relaxation therapy – which focuses on tightening and relaxing specific muscle groups in sequence; by concentrating on specific areas and tensing and then relaxing them, you can become more aware of your body and physical sensations.
As the name implies, this technique helps users face their fears through visualising them, allowing the patient to acquire tools and skills to use when facing reality. Plus there are new virtual-reality applications that when used with the help of a therapist have been shown to be very useful when to recreate various scenarios in a safe environment.
It helps to access memories and the history of the patient’s life that can reveal the roots of his or her fear of flying. A trained therapist can help you work on these thoughts and to replace them with other, healthy ones.
All in all, it’s a pretty effective toolbox – make use of it!