4 Breathing Techniques to Counter Fear of Flying


One of the most powerful and accessible tools you can use to deal with your fear of flying is mindful breathing. In this post we´ll explore different breathing techniques that will help you stay calm and get through your next flight with confidence. Get ready to take a breath and take flight towards a more serene trip.

Deep Abdominal Breathing

Simple but effective, this technique involves sitting comfortably in your seat and placing one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen. Inhale slowly through your nose, allowing the air to fill your abdomen and raise your hand in that area. Then gently exhale through your mouth, feeling your abdomen contract. Repeat this process several times, focussing on the sensation of the air moving in and out of your body. Deep abdominal breathing helps relax the nervous system and decrease the fight or flight response associated with anxiety.

´4-7-8´ Breathing

This breathing technique may not be as well known but it´s equally effective. Begin by inhaling through your nose for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds, and then slowly exhale through your mouth for eight. This sequence will help you slow down your heart rate and release accumulated tension. Practice this technique before the flight and during times of heightened anxiety in the air.  Remember that the ¨4-7-8¨ breathing sequence should be comfortable, not forced.

Alternate Nose Breathing

With this traditional technique used in the practice of yoga and meditation, you sit comfortably and place your right thumb over your right nostril and your right ring finger over your left nostril. Gently close your right nostril and exhale fully through your left nostril. Then inhale deeply through the left. At the end of the inhalation, close the left nostril with the ring finger and open the right, exhaling completely through it. Continue the process alternating breathing between both nostrils. This can help balance your internal activation and reduces anxiety.

Square Breathing

Another simple and structured practice that can help you find emotional stability during the flight. Imagine a square as you slowly inhale through your nose for four seconds, hold for another four seconds, exhale for yet another four, and finally hold your lungs empty for a final four seconds before inhaling again. This will help you establish a steady, relaxing rhythm, giving you more of a sense of security and control.


Remember that although these breathing techniques are simple tools which can be used at every moment of the flight, they´re focussed on calming the symptoms of fear of flying and rather than addressing the origin of this phobia and healing it. For this, anxious flyers are advised to seek therapy from a qualified professional.

Happy – and fearless – flying!

Founder of the Lanzas InstituteDavid Lanzas is a psychologist specialising in anxiety and trauma.

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