I love to travel and explore new places, but I will admit that sometimes it’s tough for me to get there. Yes, I deal with a fear of flying. But I’m not the only one. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, a fear of flying affects 6.5 percent of the population. That’s more than 20 million people. It’s a fear of a mechanical error, a fear of flying at night, a fear of crashing, a fear of dying. With that said, latest stats prove that flying is the safest today than it’s ever been.
Pilots have to go through intensive training and must regularly complete safety programs. They’re smart and have all the equipment necessary to fly people across land, water and high mountains safely. They know what they’re doing. You’re not going to encounter a rookie pilot on a major airline because there are none. They have thousands of hours of flight time under their belt before being hired. All these phrases just swirl around in my head, and I’m still scared. Even knowing that I’m about to embark on the safest mode of transportation, a weird noise or a little turbulence can send my mind racing.
After a few years of dealing with sleepless nights before a flight, near-panic attacks on a plane, hours of “what if” thoughts, sit downs with a therapist, I found a few ways to cope with a fear of flying that has proven successful for me.
Here are my top 7 quick and easy ways to cope with a fear of flying
Stay away from caffeine.
This is a big one. I often travel early in the morning, so it’s tough to say no to the delicious smell of Starbucks wafting from Terminal A. But I’ve found – through trial and error – that it only increases anxiety. Instead, opt for a decaf coffee or a low- to non-caffeinated hot tea.
Don’t fly hungry.
This is another big one. Hangry is a real thing, but most importantly, it’s all mental. And if you’re already nervous about your flight, hunger is going to manifest itself into panic once you hear, “Cabin check complete. Ready for takeoff.” While you’re packing your luggage and carry-on, always throw a granola bar in there for these unexpected moments.
Sit as close to the front of the plane as possible.
You’ll feel more turbulence at the back of the plane. And if you’re anything like me, a little turbulence equals lots of worry. Try to sit next to the wing or further up for a more comfortable flight.
Opt for the middle seat.
Yes, it’s the world’s most-hated seat, but it’s the perfect spot for someone with flying anxiety. I let my husband take the window seat to ensure the blind stays open, but I always feel secure sitting in the middle.
Try tapping the indention underneath your bottom lip, but above your chin.
Tap, tap, tap or rub. My therapist taught me this one. It’s one of the “TFT Treatment Points.” Similar to the benefits of acupuncture, it releases energy blockages that cause negative emotions.
Listen to calming music.
Sound therapies have long been a popular way to relax, so it’s no wonder that one song in particular was specifically constructed for that reason. “Weightless” by Marconi Union reduces stress and anxiety levels by 65%. Add it to your playlist, along with other relaxing songs, and feel your stress level melt away.
Internally tell yourself to “stop.”
This is another therapist favorite. She recommends saying it out loud, but in an effort to not scare the other passengers or get booted off the plane, it’s just as effective if you say it to yourself mentally. When you’re worrying about how bumpy it is or if that’s smoke coming from the wing or if the pilot’s freaking out, just tell yourself to “STOP.”
I’ve incorporated all of these tips into my pre-boarding routine and have had many successful, worry-free flights since. Do you have any tried-and-true ways that you cope with your fear of flying? I’d love to hear them in the comments below!