The fear of flying – otherwise known as aviophobia – is one of the most common fears. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, up to 6.5% of the population is afraid of travelling by aeroplane, despite the fact we’re flying more frequently than ever.
It’s not unusual to feel anxiety around air travel. But for some people, this fear is crippling. If you suffer from a mental health condition, flying can trigger severe reactions such as panic attacks. So, how can you plan to make your flights as stress-free as possible? Experienced pilots and crew are taking several online courses to help nervous flyers learn about their anxiety and travel with confidence.
In this article, we’ll share four ways you can start to conquer your fear of flying.
Consider Getting An Emotional Support Animal
If your fear of flying is due to an existing mental health condition, you could consider registering for an emotional support animal (ESA) with esaregistration.org. Under the Air Carrier Access Act, passengers with a valid prescription can bring their ESA into an aeroplane cabin for the flight duration.
Different airlines have different policies regarding ESAs, so always check the rules before the day of your trip. But if your animal meets their criteria, having the support of your beloved pet could prove a lifeline when you’re in the air.
Manage The Physical Symptoms Of Anxiety
Racing heart, sweaty palms, nausea – anxiety can cause all kinds of uncomfortable symptoms. Sometimes, these symptoms can make your anxiety worse. You might worry about passing out or being sick in public, especially if you’re in a window seat next to strangers.
One of the best ways to soothe your anxiety is by learning to manage your breathing. This control can require practice, so make sure to familiarise yourself with your chosen technique a couple of weeks before you plan to fly.
Some meditative breathing techniques you may wish to try include:
- Box breathing: Inhale for four seconds, counting calmly in your head. Hold your breath for another four seconds, before exhaling through your mouth. Repeat this process four times.
- Alternate nostril breathing: Close your eyes and place your hand on your face. Using your fingers, gently hold one nostril closed. Alternate between each nostril, inhaling deeply through your left and then your right. The repeated action can have a soothing effect while helping you to focus on taking deep breaths.
Understand the Root of Your Fear
Another way to conquer your fear is by taking steps to understand it. For some people, their anxiety has roots in the idea that their plane could crash. But for others, it could be a fear of heights (acrophobia), enclosed spaces (claustrophobia), or being surrounded by strangers.
By analysing your hatred of flying, you might realise that its roots are in a different form of phobia altogether. This recognition can help to rationalise your fear. You may be able to seek therapy for the underlying worry, helping to cure both the cause and effect.
Be Well Prepared on the Day
Unfortunately, you may never conquer your anxiety completely. But there are always aspects of your trip that are under your control – and by planning, you can minimise the number of last-minute issues that could stress you out before your flight.
You don’t want to worry about missing your plane or forgetting to pack something important, especially when you’re battling aviophobia. Leave yourself plenty of time to reach the airport, arrange your travel in advance, and make detailed packing lists. It will help you to feel more in control on the day.
Don’t want your fear of flying to stop you from seeing the world? Follow these tips for a stress-free flight!