• Wednesday, 24 July 2024
Expert advice on managing flight anxiety

Expert advice on managing flight anxiety

Millions of people around the world experience flight anxiety, also known as aerophobia. It can range from mild nervousness to a full-blown panic attack which can prevent people from travelling altogether.

But, with a little understanding and some practical tips from experts, you can learn to manage your flight anxiety and take to the skies with confidence.

Flight anxiety is a type of phobia, which is an intense fear of a specific situation or object. In this case, the fear is of flying.

Dr Rebecca Hoffenberg, a clinical psychologist says, “When people come in wanting to address a fear of flying, they will often say that they know flying is a safe form of travel and this may make sense to them in a rational, logical way. The problem is that their body has formed a response pattern where airplanes have become associated with anxiety."

People with flight anxiety may experience a range of physical and emotional symptoms, such as:

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Feeling of losing control
  • Panic attacks

There are many reasons why people develop flight anxiety. Some of the most common causes include:

1. Fear of enclosed spaces (claustrophobia): Airplanes can feel small and cramped, which can trigger claustrophobia in some people.

2. Fear of heights (acrophobia): The idea of being up in the air can be frightening for people with acrophobia. Licensed therapist Jules Jean-Pierre echoes this sentiment, stating, “This fear stems from a fear of heights or a lack of control over their environment.”

3. Fear of losing control: Some people with flight anxiety worry that they won't be in control of the situation during a flight.

4. Fear of turbulence: Turbulence is a normal part of flying, but it can be scary for people with flight anxiety.

5. Past negative experiences: If you've had a bad experience flying in the past, it can increase your anxiety about future flights.

If you suffer from flight anxiety, there are a number of things you can do to manage your fear and make flying a more enjoyable experience. Korry Franke, a pilot with extensive experience, emphasises the importance of understanding airplane safety features as a way of managing your anxiety. “Modern airplanes are incredibly safe,” he assures flyers, “and pilots go through rigorous training to ensure a smooth flight.”

1. Understand your fear

The first step to overcoming your fear is to understand what is causing it. Once you know why you're afraid, you can start to develop strategies for coping with your anxiety.

2. Talk to your flight attendants

Flight attendants are always there for you. Jennifer Jaki Johnson, a flight attendant and the founder of travel wellness brand Jetsetter Chic says, "Flight attendants are your best advocate. They will continue to check up on you and see how you are doing to make sure you feel good during your flight. Flight attendants are trained to handle fainting, hyperventilation, and a list of various health incidents that may occur on the plane."

3. Learn about airplane safety

Airplanes are incredibly safe. In fact, they are one of the safest modes of transportation in the world. Educating yourself about airplane safety features and procedures can help to reduce your worry.

4. Talk to your doctor

If your flight anxiety is severe, talk to your doctor. They can recommend relaxation techniques or medication to help you cope with your fear.

5. Choose a window seat

Sitting by the window can give you a sense of control and allow you to see what's going on outside the airplane.

6. Practice relaxation techniques

There are a number of relaxation techniques that can help reduce anxiety, such as deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, and meditation.

7. Distract yourself

Bring along a book, magazine, or your favourite music to distract yourself during the flight.

With a little planning and effort, you can learn to manage your flight anxiety and take off on your next flight with confidence.


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