Anxiety is an overreaction by the body to a potentially stressful situation, and it can be a physiological response that can be quite intense, and come to affect the actions of fearful flyers. If this includes you, it might be due to various reasons:
- Because you’ve had previous, particularly stressful flying experience yourself
- Because of an example (or examples) of danger in flying you’ve heard of/read about/seen on TV or online
- Because of a feeling of lack of control
- Because of a combination of the above
Why Was so Much Anxiety Produced?
The fears of anxious flyers are often rooted in the fact that they can’t identify the source of the anxiety. You don’t have to be aware of the reason, since the physiological and emotional response sometimes occurs before the cognitive one; that is, your body can react before your mind does.
Don’t try to search for it at all costs, as it may be a losing battle. Understand that if your body has this reaction, it is because it feels alert, restless or in danger; it needs to protect you and keep you safe. Instead, try to direct your attention and your words to the present moment from calm, to be able to regulate yourself and gradually return to your balance.
What Can You Do when You Feel Anxiety like This?
Here are some tools which can be very useful:
- Try to direct your internal dialogue to the present moment. You can create a list of phrases that can help you when you’re in a situation perceived as threatening.
Stay calm and try to put words to what is happening – name and identify everything, so that your brain can better cateogrise things and make the experience less stressful for you.
- Practice mindful breathing, paying attention to how air enters and exits your lungs.
- You can also undertake a regular programme of meditation (guided or otherwise) to create a safe space in your mind in which to take refuge at times of stress like this.
- Try not to judge or question your physical symptoms; just go with them, see how they manifest without fighting them to make them disappear.
- Babble to yourself with affection and respect, as is to a loved one who needs you in that moment. Your internal dialogue is key to maintaining your emotional balance.
- If you have the chance, you can also share how you feel with someone who’s travelling with you – especially a friend or loved one. Sometimes you might feel the need for someone to support us – and this does not make you less capable, just more sensible.
- If you don’t feel it’s right or appropriate to do share with someone, or there’s simply no one else around, consider writing down how you feel. Writing can be very therapeutic, releasing emotions, letting you see them from the outside, and helping reorganise your thoughts and feelings.
And in the final analysis, remember that you have the ability to withstand feeling everything that’s coming, that your emotions are temporary, and as the saying goes: ” this, too, shall pass”.