When you love to travel, but you hate to fly…
Do you have a sense of crippling fear and anxiety every time you board an airplane? You’re not alone. In fact, myself and more than 26 million other Americans suffer from some form of flight anxiety. The good news is that commercial flights are safer now than they ever have been in the history of aviation. Your chance of being in an air disaster is about one in three million – meaning that you would need to fly every single day for 8,200 years to even come close to that statistic. As they say in the Hunger Games, ‘the odds are ever in your favor.’
Whether its a case of the flight jitters or full-blown aviophobia, I’m here to set the facts straight and help you overcome your irrational fear of flying, just like I did.
The best way to beat an irrational fear is to be able to separate the facts from the phobia. If you’re like me, thoughts like, ‘What if the engine fails when we take off? or ‘What if there’s too much turbulence?’ will inevitably pop in your head.
Instead of letting these fears control you, challenge them with facts. If you’re afraid of turbulence, do some research into how planes are built to withstand turbulence. Airplanes pass through turbulence all day, every day, and how often have you heard of an airplane actually crashing because of it? At cruising altitude, it just doesn’t happen.
Fear of flying, for many, is really a combination of claustrophobia, fear of strange noises and the fear of not being in control. With that being said, phobias are irrational and sometimes the best antidote for them is logic. After educating yourself about the parts of the plane and how it works, do what I did and dive into a rabbit hole of statistics about the flight industry that will help validate your safety. After all, planes are made to stay in the air.
Let’s face it, aviophobia isn’t going to disappear overnight. So, if you know you are going to be anxious, it’s best to come prepared. Make a list of things to do that will distract you during the flight and try to get through the entire list. For example, listen to a few of your favorite songs, learn to control your breathing through meditation, or even treat yourself to a mini facial with a smart mask treatment, like UFO. Having something to do besides worry about the fate of your flight will give you a sense of comfort and help to put your mind at ease.
Facing your biggest anxieties head-on is sometimes the best way to overcome them. In other words, just keep swimming. Psychologists refer to this as the ‘gradual exposure’ technique, whereby you expose yourself to the thing that you fear, but in small doses. As painful as it may be, the best way to combat the fear of flying is to fly more often. Start by taking short round-trip flights, and work your way towards longer flights. If you aren’t ready to step foot on a flight, start by getting used to an airport terminal and then gradually work your way towards getting on a plane.
Getting over serious phobias can take a lot of work, but if it’s severely impacting your joy of travel, there’s no harm in trying these simple techniques or even talking to a therapist.
When in doubt, keep calm and carry on!
Born and bred in Buffalo, New York, Mollie is a self-diagnosed coffee addict who loves exploring new places and taking selfies with her dog Archie.