Do you limit your vacations to staycations because you’re afraid to fly? Well, you’re not alone. The National Institute of Mental Health says that 6.5 percent of the population suffers from aviophobia (fear of flying).
The thought of sitting on a seat that’s hovering 7 miles above the ground is terrifying to a lot of people, more than 20 million to be exact. But even though your fear isn’t irrational, it shouldn’t get in the way of your life.
Here are 7 techniques to control your nerves when flying:
- Limit alcohol
Most people who are afraid to fly quickly turn to alcohol to calm their nerves – but that’s not always the best idea. It’s true that alcohol is likely to help you feel more relaxed during your flight, but you definitely don’t want to overdo it.
Limit your alcohol consumption to one or two airline-sized drinks during the flight to avoid any issues that may result from intoxication.
- Trust your pilot
One of the biggest issues behind the fear of flying is a loss of control. Some people are afraid of flying because they are completely powerless over the journey. These same people may also be backseat drivers in the car. If this sounds like you, make a conscious effort to pass over the reigns to the pilot. Trust in his education and experience to get you where you’re going. If it helps, ask about his experience beforehand. You’ll likely find that he has landed a great number of planes already.
- Acknowledge your anxiety
When you’re feeling anxious, you have a few options. You can feed your anxiety, try to fight it, or you can acknowledge it. All you have to do to feed anxiety is to allow your mind to wander. On the other hand, it’s never effective to fight against your natural feelings and tell yourself they aren’t real. The only way to get through your anxiety is to acknowledge it. Acknowledge the feelings in your body, such as your pounding heart or nauseous stomach. Finally, take a look around you and notice that you’re not in immediate danger. The only harm you’re doing is to yourself with your thoughts.
- Know the facts
If you’re going to let yourself be afraid, you should know exactly what you’re afraid of. In fact, the most dangerous part of your day is the drive to the airport. Your chances of being in a plane crash are approximately one in eleven million.
- Keep busy
If you already know you’re going to be anxious, find stuff to keep yourself busy. This isn’t about ignoring the anxiety as much as it’s about keeping your mind busy so that it doesn’t wander.
If you don’t already meditate, you should consider starting about three months before your flight. Make it a daily practice and meditate before your flight. If you have an especially long trip, you may also want to attempt an in-flight meditation about halfway through.
- Practice breathing exercises
If you’ve tried everything on this list yet are still staring a full-fledged panic attack in the face, it’s time to practice your breathing exercises. If you don’t already have a set routine, simply take one long, deep breath in and hold it for a few seconds. Slowly exhale and imagine exhaling your stress and tension.
Many people are afraid of flying, but don’t let that stop you. Try these tips on a short flight to see if you can overcome your fears.