How to get over your fear of flying

About one in four people get the flying jitters, and for some it is so bad that it causes a crippling fear of even getting on a plane. One of our over 60 members tried to explain this fear over on Natter at 60, saying: “I quite realise it’s illogical but then most phobias are to those who don’t have them.”

This fear is not uncommon, though, especially with the travellers over 60, who didn’t have the chance to travel extensively when younger. But you don’t have to let your fear of flying for interrupting your travel plans. Here’s a handy guide to help you go on that dream holiday, and to survive the trip without too much stress and anxiety.

1. Practice online 

People around the world understand that there are those who are nervous about flying, and with the help of technology, they’re trying to put the person’s nerves at ease. There are a number of flight simulators around, including Flyingwithoutfear.com which is a great site loaded with free content. You can listen to the sounds of every aspect of flying from engine noise at take off, to final boarding calls in the airport. There are a number of videos that describe exactly what you will see and help you understand what to expect, and you can even find a support forum to discuss your concerns with others.

2. Know that it’s the safest way to travel

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It’s understandable to have a fear of the plane coming crashing down, especially with the spate of news regarding airlines doing just that. However, regardless of this, aircrafts are the most safe way to travel. In fact, you are 500 times more likely to be in a car accident than in a plane crash. However, this does not really help calm your nerves as you are still not in control of the plane! Think about this: how many drivers are actually in control of what other drivers are doing on the road around them? None. On a plane, there is little that can go wrong, and skilled pilots are in control and have a lot of training in case of emergency. We can’t say the same for every road user.

3. Pretend to be on a bus

If you’re already on the plane, it can be hard to feel calm with all the distractions, but one known way to feel better is to close your eyes and imagine you’re on a bus. Go with the turbulence and any little bumps – imagine they are just little holes in the road.

4. Treat it like a game

The trick is to view the process as an exciting game, not a terrifying nightmare. You need to apply the same energy and enthusiasm as you would if learning a new sport, instrument, or language. Once you see flying this way, you will begin to enjoy it.

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5. Calm your anxiety

Often phobias show an underlying general anxiety disorder. You might think you just have a fear of flying but then realise that you are anxious in other areas of your life. In this case, consult your doctor and see if you can be referred to a psychologist who can help you manage your anxiety.

6. Try relaxing yourself before getting on the plane

Try meditating at the airport using a mantra like “I will be safe” while sitting in a quiet space. You could try listening to relaxing music before hand too. Whatever you do to relax, make sure that you do it with positive reinforcements in the form of a mantra or simply positive thoughts.

7. Visualise your destination

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Although the plane ride might seem scary or not pleasant, it can help to think about the end result. You will make it, and soon you will be on holidays or seeing family. Think about that and don’t let the journey get in the way of something rewarding.

8. Keep distracted

Watch a movie, read a book or do a crossword puzzle to keep your mind occupied and not dwelling on morbid possibilities. Listening to peaceful or calming music with your eyes closed will also assist in easing your mind.

9. Do not avoid flying

By avoiding flying you are sending yourself a strong message that flying is dangerous and you are not capable of managing.

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10. Choose a seat that suits your fears

The best place to sit in general on an aircraft for non-experienced fliers is the window seat. This way not only can you see out, but you are also sitting directly under the flow of the air conditioner. When feelings of anxiety cause overheating and nausea, sitting here can be particularly beneficial. However, if claustrophobia is a fear, sitting in an exit row is often the best option.

Do you have a fear of flying, or know anyone who does? Have you or they tried any of these tips? What would you like to add?

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