Panic Attacks While Flying
Many people love traveling and seeing new places, but there’s one part of travel that isn’t so fun: flying.
For some, flying is simply a hassle, thanks to high fares, airport delays, and lost luggage. But for travelers with a fear of flying, it’s is more than inconvenient; it’s terrifying, and even bring on a full-blown panic attack.
Fear of flying can be caused by a number of factors, including claustrophobia or a fear of heights.
Many fearful flyers feel irrational anxiety that their plane will malfunction and crash, no matter how many times they hear the statistics about how safe flying is compared to driving.
Other travelers worry about terrorist hijackings or panic at the idea that they’re not in control of the aircraft that’s carrying them.
No matter why you’re scared of flying, there are certain steps you can take to help alleviate your fears.
Whether or not to fly is a personal decision, and one that no one else can make for you. But for those of you who are determined not to let this change your way of life, below are a few tips for overcoming your fear of flying.
No matter why you’re scared of flying, there are ways help alleviate your fears.
Understand The Basics of Flying
For many fearful flyers, learning the basics of how airplanes work can go a long way toward alleviating their anxiety.
For example, understanding how a plane can continue to fly even if an engine fails can help you feel less concerned about your aircraft malfunctioning.
The video below offers an easy-to-understand explanation of what causes turbulence (a major source of flying anxiety), and why it’s no big deal.
Learning how airplanes work can go a long way toward alleviating your anxiety.
Familiarize Yourself with Your Plane
Getting to know what your plane looks like can make it seem a little less scary. Visit the airline’s website, and learn about the aircraft on which you’ll be traveling.
I once heard of a fearful flyer who actually put a picture of the plane’s cabin on her computer’s desktop; by the time her flight rolled around, the image was familiar, not scary.
Learn about the specific aircraft on which you’ll be traveling.
Consider an Aisle Seat
Most airlines and booking engines allow you to request a seat assignment when you book your flight.
Request an aisle seat, particularly if you’re prone to claustrophobia; you’ll feel less hemmed in by other people, and you’ll be able to get up and move around the cabin more easily. This also makes it easier to avoid looking out the window if those sky-high views make you nervous.
For more tips on nabbing the seat you want, Insider’s “Best Places to Sit on a Flight, According to a Flight Attendant” is an interesting read.
Request an aisle seat if you’re prone to claustrophobia.
Don’t Scare Yourself With Media
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s worth mentioning: avoid airplane disaster movies, news coverage of plane crashes, or other scary media images.
I know – “Thanks, Captain Obvious.”
Remember that the vast majority of flights arrive safely, but only the problem flights make the news. Don’t let that skew your impressions of flying.
Don’t watch airplane disaster movies or read about airplane tragedies.
Think Beyond The Flight
In the days leading up to your trip, it’s easy to let the flight anxiety build.
Instead, try to focus on more positive things—like all the fun things you’ll do once you reach your destination.
Look forward to enjoying the destination.
Take Your Time
Allow yourself plenty of time to get to the airport before your flight is scheduled to depart. Racing to the gate and worrying about missing your plane will only add to your anxiety.
For more advice, see “How Early to Get to the Airport – Here’s What Travel Experts Say” in Time.com.
Arrive early to avoid the stress of rushing at the airport.
Make Use of an Airport Lounge
Most airlines have private airport lounges that are quiet, luxurious oases away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the airport.
While they’re usually reserved for club members or elite flyers, you can often purchase a day pass for about $50—which may be a small price to pay for a soothing place to relax and prepare for your flight.
Lounges are often filled with complimentary amenities such as premium food and snacks, fully stocked bars, modern shower facilities, fast WiFi, plentiful power outlets and secure business centers.
Consumer Reports had a great article on how to pay less to use an airport lounge.
Meet the Crew
If there’s time before your flight, ask to meet the pilot of your plane. Alternatively, spend some time chatting with a flight attendant.
Often, meeting the folks who hold your safety in their hands can make the plane seem like a friendlier environment and reassure you that that crew is knowledgeable and competent.
Tune In To Something Relaxing
Make sure your phone or tablet is stocked with soothing music to help get you into a peaceful frame of mind.
You may also want to download stress-busting meditation sessions or audio books.
At publication time, this audible offer allows you to download 2 free choices.
And make sure you have a good pair of noise cancelling headphones so you can really zone out.
Many fearful flyers are bothered by their perceived lack of control since they have no influence over the safety or performance of the aircraft.
Try to regain a little control by reminding yourself that you made the decision to fly and that you can decide how you respond to the experience.
As anxiety increases, your breathing may get shallow—but deep breathing is an instant stress reliever. Breathe slowly and deeply for a count of five or 10.
Read about deep breathing exercises for relaxation at Greatist.com.
Read or Watch Something Fun
Pack a magazine or a good book to take your mind off what’s happening. Order up a comedy on your plane’s in-flight entertainment system, or pre-load a few of your favorite flicks onto your laptop.
Have a Drink
Many frightened flyers often turn to alcohol to calm their nerves. While this is fine in moderation, keep in mind that alcohol should not be combined with anti-anxiety medications.
Also, alcohol can contribute to dehydration, particularly in the arid environment of an airplane; if you do treat yourself to a cocktail, be sure to follow it up with plenty of water.
This and other stimulants can make you even more jittery.
Get Some Air
Turn on the air vents above your head as soon as you board; the flow of air may help you feel less claustrophobic.
By the way, using that tiny vent can actually protect your health as well, because the air had passed through a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) to clear away dust and microbes.
This can help you avoid contact with certain microorganisms that can get you sick during a flight.
Planes also have low humidity, which means your mucous membrane can dry out on during a flight. When this happens, you’re more susceptible to contracting a virus, which is why keeping them away becomes all the more important.
If your fear is particularly debilitating and you’ve tried other relaxation techniques without success, ask your doctor if it may be worth taking an anti-anxiety medication or a sleeping pill before you fly.
If you prefer to go the natural route, I’ve used Cortisol Manager on flights (as well as other times). It has been very helpful with my nerves, without making me feel exhausted.
Phosphatidylserine combined with calming herbs reduce cortisol levels for all-day stress reduction and restful sleep.
It’s a safe, natural and non-habit forming formula that increases the ability to fall asleep, stay asleep, or simply feel more relaxed.
Talk to a Therapist
A licensed therapist or counselor can help you figure out the root causes of your fear and how to overcome them.
Get Help For Fear of Flying Today
I have an excellent recommendation for learning to manage and cure your anxiety and panic.
This is an especially good choice for those who prefer to go the “do it yourself” route, rather than be under the care of a therapist:
The Panic Away Program was born in 2001, and through the sheer number of success stories, it has gone on to become one of the world’s most successful programs for ending panic and anxiety.
Panic Away Testimonial Video
In this video, you’ll meet:
Tracy suffered with anxiety since she was a child, and it prevented her from being the mother she is and wanted to be.
Tracy found Panic Away and she is now living life to the fullest and enjoying being a mother and wife.
Patrick suffered from anxiety for many years, his life began to change when he discovered Panic Away and now he is looking forward to his holiday in Hawaii!
Jacki has always been prone to anxiety and was prescribed medication for her anxiety.
After using Panic Away, she is anxiety free- no medication needed!
Danielle started having Panic Attacks after the birth of her first child.
She could not go anywhere alone. She saw a huge transformation within days of using the program.
End Panic Attacks And General Anxiety
The Panic Away Program teaches how to end panic attacks and reduce feelings of general anxiety.
The program is used in over 32 countries worldwide and is proving to be one of the most successful non- pharmaceutical approaches to ending an anxiety disorder.
Using the 21-7 Technique, Barry McDonagh teaches how to stop a panic attack in 21 seconds and reduce feelings of general anxiety in less than 7 minutes.
The programs global success is a result of communicating psychological techniques in an easy to follow, step by step manner.
You’ll quickly learn how to:
- Stop Panic Attacks
- End Feelings of General Anxiety
- Eliminate Anxious Thoughts
- Feel More Confident and In Control
In the past 15 years, The Panic Away Program has touched over 150,000 lives in 32 countries worldwide.
For more information, visit the Panic Away Program website.
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