I am know how debilitating this can be for some of you. 25 million people are challenged with ‘aviophobia’ and I want to help give you some guidance.
My aunt in law literally did not fly at all. It was so hard to see her missing family events but through her desire to push past, gain support from family and friends, master an online course, work with doctors, and use occasion light meds when needed, she is able now to travel the skies to be with loved ones afar! I have also seen several melt downs before my very eyes when on board riding in the cabin. Through connection, touch, eye contact, deep breathing, and distraction, I was able to calm them.
Many fears come from the feeling of lack of control. With flying, there are so many different aspects that can make a person concerned. I have written “Remove Before Flight” to help you remove your fear and concerns before your next flight. It is a fun and quick read to take on the flight with you! You will feel more empowered and knowledgeable about what is happening around you.
Here are tips and techniques below to help reduce your anxiety:
1) Breath slowly and deeply. Concentrate on your breathing and close your eyes. Do a mental body scan by picturing every muscle in your body from top to bottom and tell it to relax.
2) Visualization. Picture something in your mind or even bring a picture with you of something that makes you feel happy and calm. During those more challenging moments, go there in your mind to this scene or location of your destination and imagine yourself there in detail – the sights, feels, sounds, smells, etc.
3) Be able to pin point specifically what it is that raises your anxiety. Is it a specific part of the flight, an aspect of the experience, a situation in your past history, news reports that play again and again? When you can label exactly what it is that makes you fearful, you are better able to work through this.
4) If turbulence is something that is a concern, please read my article titled “Smooth Rides”. If you do not feel quite right physically when you fly, make sure you drink tons of good water, cut out or reduce the coffee and alcohol, and avoid fried or heavy foods.
5) Distractions are a key to reducing anxiety. Bring things that engage you in flight. These can be games, downloaded shows, books (the best would be “Remove Before Flight), projects, conversations with seat neighbors, etc.
6) The more knowledge you have about the flying environment and the more often you fly, the less daunting the travel will be for you!
7) Try not to take natural or prescription meds unless absolutely necessary. Maybe it is enough to calm you just knowing that you have it available to you if you need it. The flight crew cannot allow anyone on board that may be impaired or unable to follow instructions. You can mention to them that you are an anxious flyer so that they can give you added support if needed.
8) My best piece of advice – take a flying lesson! Find a flight school at a local airport and tell them you want their best instructor to fly a demo flight in the morning time (smooth air and good weather is what you want). Having the controls in your hands and understanding how the aircraft works will help empower you!
I hope these tips help you in your travels! Here are a few other great resources if you would like more information. I wish you Blue Skies!!
“Freedom to Fly Program” – Anxiety and Phobia Center in White Plains, New York
www.FearofFlying.com – Captain Toms online course
ehotels.com – list of common aircraft sounds