The fear of flying can be an isolating feeling, especially if it prevents you from traveling for work, pleasure or to stay in touch with family and friends living afar. Does simply the thought of boarding a plane fill you with anxiety? Does each flight feel like a terrifying gauntlet? You are not alone.
Millions share your discomfort. With airplanes serving as today’s most convenient form of long-distance travel, overcoming a fear of flying is of paramount importance for many people. For those looking for a fear of flying treatment, there are a number of options available. From fear of flying therapy to hypnosis, many have learned to board a plane with confidence and peace of mind.
To get to the root cause of your fear, you may want to try talk therapy. Find a therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist in your area who specializes in treating patients with anxiety disorders. If you are not sure the difference between these professionals, here is a brief explanation:[mk_custom_list style=”48″ icon_color=”#00c8d7″ margin_bottom=”30″ align=”none”]
Finding local fear of flying classes or someone that specializes specifically in the fear of flying would be ideal, but counselors with that specialty are more difficult to find. A good alternative would be the SOAR Program, an online course developed by Tom Bunn, an airline Captain and licensed therapist. Part of the program includes phone counseling with Captain Tom.
For more information, click here or see the online courses section at the end of this article.
Discussing when your fear began and possible triggers, you may be able to gain insight into your anxiety. A therapist can help you change your internal dialogue and replace it with a confidence boosting mantra to help you control your feelings of panic.
If you prefer to address your fears in the privacy of your own home, check out an online course. A number of multimedia presentations are available with practical tips and meaningful insight on how to learn to trust the plane and its crew, to cope with anxieties surrounding your perceived lack of control and to calm your episodes of panic.
One of the cons of online courses as a fear of flying treatment is the lack of a personal touch—some simply prefer dealing with someone in person. The pros are the relatively inexpensive cost compared to other therapies and the ability to access materials by experts in the specific field of the fear of flying. For more information, see our fear of flying apps guide.
I’m sure you can identify with the following scenarios: The panic and anxiety starts setting in days or even weeks before you get on the plane. It gets progressively stronger as the flight approaches. Checking in, heading to your gate and finally boarding the plane is a nerve-wracking experience. Every bump and noise from the takeoff to the landing shoots jolts of terror through your body as you imagine all the plane accidents and disasters you’ve ever heard about.
If any of this describes you, there is help. This guide on fear of flying help will spell out proven flying tips and strategies that will allow you get a grip on your emotions and allow you to settle your mind and body, even if panic has already set in.
There are two important steps to harnessing your emotions:
Fearful fliers suffer a variety of thoughts such as:
You normally won’t be able to ignore the thoughts or wish them away, so you need a process to deal with them directly. Psychologists recommend an effective 5 step process to do just that:
Step 1: Identify the Fearful Thought
The fearful thoughts are generally irrational. From the list above, how many of the items on the list are actually likely to happen (other than being in a relatively confined space)?
The answer is none of them. So the first step is realizing that your racing thoughts are irrational and you want to get rid of them.
Step 2: Snap Yourself With a Rubber Band
You may have heard of this technique to break bad habits, but it also works for the fear of flying. Bring a rubber band with you on the flight. Thicker rubber bands work better because they are sturdier and don’t sting quite as much as thinner ones. Place the band so it is positioned over your palm. When you experience racing thoughts, snap your palm with the rubber band. You’re not looking to maim yourself, you just want a bit of a sting. What’s the point? The sting helps interrupt the racing thoughts.
Step 3: Self Talk
In this step, you are decisively telling yourself to stop thinking the irrational, negative thought. Use a word or short phrase like “Stop!” “Quit it!” or “That’s enough!” You should think these words or phrases, not say them aloud, so that you are not alarming your fellow passengers on the plane. It is helpful to drum up anger to accompany your self talk. It is an important distinction to direct your anger at your fear, not at yourself as a whole. If you are having trouble generating anger, just think of all the problems that being afraid to fly has caused you. This could include missing important events, vacations, jobs, etc.
Step 4: “I Can” Statements
This step is similar to the previous step but the message is the opposite. You want a short self-affirming self statement like, “I can do this!” or “I’ve overcome harder things.” Some people choose to use motivational statements tied to why they want to defeat their apprehension of flying. This could be something like, “I’ll have a great vacation if I can conquer my fear during this flight.” This is not a new tactic—athletes, for example, use these statements all the time because they are effective. And they can be effective for you as part of your overall fear of flying help strategy!
Step 5: Repeat As Necessary
Just like any process, these steps take practice. It seems simple, but this method has been used by countless people to control their fears and anxiety when they fly.
For the best fear of flying course, see the Soar program review.
After you’ve got a handle on racing thoughts, it’s time to focus in on the next set of tips—controlling your breathing. When you get anxious or fearful, your breathing gets out of whack; your breaths become faster and more shallow and you may gasp for air. The idea is for you—not your fear—to control your breathing. Psychologists utilize another 5 step plan to address this challenge:
Step 1: Inhale from your diaphragm
When you breathe from your diaphragm, your stomach protrudes out. Count three seconds (you can use the old “one thousand one, one thousand two…” method to help you keep a consistent pace).
Step 2: Hold Your Breath
When you reach the count of three from step 1 above, hold your breath for a count of three.
Step 3: Exhale
Purse your lips and exhale for a count of three. Tightening your lips helps prevent you from exhaling too quickly.
Step 4: Rest
After you have exhaled, rest without inhaling or exhaling for a three-count.
Step 5: Repeat
Repeat steps one through five for five to seven minutes.
Again, the idea of this this technique is to put you in control of your breathing during the flight. You can practice the techniques while still at the airport. The process will restore your breathing and the rest of your body’s functioning to normal within five to seven minutes. For more fear of flying help topics, see the how to overcome fear of flying guide.
Tags: fear of flying tips and fear of flying help.
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