Guide No Fear of Flying

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Make sure you have plenty of time to get to the airport, and pack your luggage appropriately, so you don't have to deal with repacking two large suitcases at the last moment. Wear comfortable clothes to minimize your sense of bodily discomfort, bring along any medication you may need, and make sure to stay hydrated while on the plane. Other than tending to your basic needs when it comes to physical comfort, you should also pre-empt your anxiety so as to avoid adding to your general sense of unease.

I like to think of my fear of flight as an unruly toddler that needs to be constantly placated in unfamiliar and uncomfortable conditions. Furness-Smith has a similar take on things. She likens aviophobia to "an imp," a little naughty creature that likes to cause distress and needs to be kept in check.

The sole purpose of these small creatures from German folklore was to bug and harass humans by misleading them.

Fear of flying - Wikipedia

Research has demonstrated that high-altitude hypoxia , which is a slight decrease in oxygen supply, might naturally increase a sense of anxiety, so while you're in no danger whatsoever, you may feel unease as if you were under threat. One study suggests that some fearful fliers might mistake this physiological effect for aviophobia, as their brains try to make sense of the feeling of anxiety by ascribing to it the most immediately available cause: One way or another, then, anxiety is misleading, so you must not allow it to take over and drive you into a panic attack.

This, however, does not mean rejecting your anxiety and trying to pretend that it doesn't exist. I know this might sound like just the opposite of what you should do, but trust me on this: I've realized that the more I try to pretend it isn't there, the worse the terror gets.

What ultimately happens is that I become afraid of being afraid, augmenting the anxiety in a vicious cycle. The initial fear is often much less severe and easier to calm than the pit of terror into which denial can throw me. A recent study also reports that individuals who accept their negative emotions are less likely to develop mood disorders such as anxiety and depression. When you do feel anxiety start to take hold and you've acknowledged it, you should immediately take steps to prevent it from escalating. First, you can act directly on the physiological symptoms, such as the racing pulse and shallow breathing, which may also make you feel sick and faint.

Acting on the physical signs can also trick your mind into feeling more at ease.

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One way to do this is by learning some mindful breathing exercises, such as the ones outlined on the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley website. They advise bringing your conscious attention to your body and to how it feels, then focus on breathing normally. As your mind attempts to wander away to fearful scenarios, bring your attention back to your breathing until you become calmer.

Another technique that may help you is box breathing , wherein you take and hold deep breaths to allow your pulse to slow down and relieve your sense of agitation. This technique requires you to inhale slowly through the nose to a count of four, hold that breath for another 4 seconds, then slowly exhale to a count of four. Something else that can help you with your fear of flying is simply regaining a sense of excitement and purpose.

That study explains that there are fewer degrees of separation between anxiety and excitement than between anxiety and calmness, so it's much easier to trick your mind into thinking that your racing heart is caused by your enthusiasm at the thought of getting to your destination. Additionally, reminding yourself why you're on a plane in the first place may help to boost that sense of excitement and the motivation to go through with it. If you're heading home for the holidays, think about the joy and peace that being with your loved ones will bring.

If you're taking a break from work or school, picture all the fun you'll have at your destination. If you can latch onto the happy outcome and understand that only a few hours of discomfort separate you from it, that can help to minimize the fearful proportions that flying has taken on in your mind. Most important of all, once you have taken the steps to face your fear, book that flight, and board it, you must not stop at that first achievement. Repeat, repeat, repeat; with each new flight, you are normalizing the event and preventing anxiety from controlling your life choices.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America say that desensitization is a crucial step to overcoming any persistent fear, so they emphasize that you must "value each flight," since it allows you to make flying a routine occurrence that doesn't warrant feeling any anxiety.


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Exposure is also a main ingredient of cognitive behavioral therapy — the therapy of choice for most phobias, including aviophobia. So, even if you still feel a little shaken from your most recent experience aboard an airplane, try not to let it deter you from planning your next flight. Finally, remember that overcoming fear — any fear — is a long and laborious process, and that you will have good times and bad. Enjoy the good, and don't let the bad take you back to square one. MNT is the registered trade mark of Healthline Media.


  1. Why Some People Have Aviophobia, or Fear of Flying | Time.
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    Register for a free account Sign up for a free Medical News Today account to customize your medical and health news experiences. Register take the tour. Fact checked by Jasmin Collier. So am I, but here are a few things that could help you to overcome that anxiety and step onto the plane without the jitters.

    How to Overcome Your Fear of Flying (Part 1)

    Does the sound of airplanes raise blood pressure risk? Hand massages are also recommended by staff at Iberia - get a partner to place a thumb in your palm and apply pressure in sweeping motions outwards, towards the fingers. Or use a thumb to create little circular motions in the palm and then repeat with a knuckle. Being under the influence of alcohol might make it harder to keep your imagination under control - something you want to avoid if you are prone to scary thoughts about plummeting out of the sky.

    Adding to your dehydration, and possibly ending up with a headache and fatigue, is only going to make you feel more lightheaded, which is less than ideal if nerves are making you feel faint to begin with.

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    An explanation of in-flight noises will help calm a person who thinks the worst at the sound of every rattle or scrap. Speak to a member of the cabin crew if you hear anything during the flight that you want explained - and accept their explanation. Read up on common cabin sounds before you fly if you are the type to question everything. A lack of knowledge, the experts inform us, is a major factor behind fear of flying.

    Wings will never snap off.

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    All planes can fly with one engine, and if both engines cut out, an aircraft at cruising altitude can glide for 70 miles before it needs to land. Pilots will use the radar to avoid large clouds, and will slow down if it gets bumpy, to ensure a smoother ride. Depending on the direction of travel, our flight planners either avoid into a headwind or use into a tailwind these jet streams to cut fuel costs, as they can flow up to mph.

    We urge you to turn off your ad blocker for The Telegraph website so that you can continue to access our quality content in the future. Visit our adblocking instructions page. Home News Sport Business. Clench your buttocks A British Airways-led fear of flying course at Heathrow Airport revealed this rather unlikely solution for turbulence jitters.

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