5 Preflight Stress-reduction Strategies for Anxious Flyers


Not surprisingly, aerophobia brings with it high levels of anxiety and stress. But if just thinking about getting on a plane makes you anxious, there are practical measures you can take before flying which can reduce that tension and help you better regulate your emotions.

Learn About How Flying Works

Most air passengers rarely give a second though to how airplanes stay in the air and otherwise operate, but unfamiliarity with this can prey on the minds of aerophobes. So researching how this all works, along with flight routines and the extensive maintenance routines and safety measures in place across the aviation industry, has a real effect in reducing uncertainty and stress.

Practice Deep Breathing Techniques

These techniques include abdominal breathing, in which you inhale deeply through your nose, hold your breath for a few seconds, then exhale slowly through your mouth. Repeat this process to calm your nerves and reduce your anxiety.

Try Positive Visualisation

Before your flight, close your eyes and visualise a smooth and successful trip. Imagine every detail from takeoff to landing. This technique can counteract the negative images associated with the fear of flying.

Establish a Gradual Desensitisation Plan

If your phobia is overwhelming, establish a gradual plan to deal with it. Start by familiarising yourself with images of airplanes; then move on to watching flight videos;  and finally consider a short flight. Progressively desensitising yourself to the thought and practice of flying can make the experience less frightening.

Seek Social as Well as Professional Help

Sharing your fears with friends, family, and/or mental-health professionals can ease your emotional burden. Oftentimes, simply expressing your concerns can be a crucial first step toward overcoming fear.

Furthermore, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) are among a number of effective therapeutic approaches to address aerophobia. When it comes to very limiting fears, looking for a competent psychotherapist will always be the best option.


In sum, relieving the fear of flying is not only possible, but also achievable with practical approaches. Don’t hesitate to try various strategies and adjust them according to your needs. Remember that the improvement process may take time, but each little step will advance you along the road to flying without fear. So onward – you can do it!

And happy – and fearless – flying!

David Lanzas is a psychologist specialising in anxiety and trauma, and founder of the Lanzas Institute.