This blog post was updated on August 4, 2021.
Mirror, mirror on the wall, what’s the safest mode of transportation of them all? Well, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), it’s air travel.
Yep, you read that correctly. In fact, planes are safer than trains, boats, buses, and yes, even cars! But for a flight-phobic, facts and figures can only give so much solace. Even hard statistics barely matter to the trepidatious traveler, especially when it comes to those who have a serious fear of flying.
The good news is that even if you’re one of the 20+ million people in the U.S. that suffers from some level of flight-fright, there are still tons of ways for you to conquer those fears and treasure your experience on international flights, too! Read on for some useful tips on how to manage your in-air anxiety, so you can finally break free from being airborne and afraid!
Before Your Flight:
Ever wonder why the jitters seem to start almost immediately once your anxiety is triggered? When your body goes into anxiety-mode, it experiences a super surge of adrenaline; that’s probably what is causing those shakes, shivers, and sweats you’re experiencing! Sure, some adrenaline rushes are awesome (say, if you’re saving lives by lifting cars to free someone underneath), but in this case, the best thing for you to do is to outsmart your anxiety and get rid of as much of it as you can, before you even board. Here are some tricks to trick your anxiety:
Anticipate Your Anxiety
Anticipation is often the root of anxiety and before you board the plane, what you’re experiencing is most likely your mind forecasting all the scary things you think might happen on your international flights. Turn your anxiousness on its head; instead of anticipating your fears coming true, try to instead anticipate your anxiety so you can better manage it even before it surfaces.
Outsmart Your Nerves
Anxiety is a bully that tries to trick your common sense, telling your gut feeling that you are in danger when actually, you’re perfectly safe. Don’t fall for the trick! Do the opposite of what your anxious feelings are telling you to do and be patient through the discomfort that they bring.
Tire Yourself Out
Once you’ve made it through security, if you have enough time before boarding, take a stroll around the airport to walk off those nerves before heading to your gate. Cutting it too close for a long walk? Try pacing by your gate while taking deep breaths or find a quiet corner to do some breathing exercises or even some pre-flight meditation.
Keep Calm and Research On
Before you embark on your journey, first thing’s first: put in the work and do some research on your international flights. It’s important to both acknowledge and understand your fears, so start at the top and get to know the facts about what’s causing those air-journey jitters and how you can avoid them.
The fact that planes are the safest mode of transport, is a surprise to many. So, unsurprisingly, not a lot of people know much about airplanes themselves. It’s natural to fear the unknown, which explains a lot of those tensions you’re feeling about your upcoming plane ride, especially if you’re someone that doesn’t have a lot of information on flying in general. Do yourself a favor and clear up some of those clouds of confusion. Get to know more about your plane, the flight and air travel in general. It will help you separate your fears from danger, so you can easily remind yourself that even when your anxiety reaches the same heights as your aircraft, you’re not in danger.
Flight fear conquered: check. Dream destination picked: check. All that’s left are some international flights to get you there!
Figure Out Your Level of Flight-Fright
While the fear of flying could be just a few moments of jitters for one person, for someone else it could be as severe as aerophobia — the medical term used to describe “an abnormal and persistent fear of flying”. Figuring out where you stand in the spectrum of flight-fright could help you better manage your anxiety and the symptoms that come with it.
Identify Your Triggers
Every time your phobia is triggered, you’ll notice that there are some of the same things that happen every time. By being able to identify your triggers and what kind of reactions your body will have to them ahead of time, you’ll be better equipped to manage and conquer your fears when they later surface. The more you know about what stirs your pot of anxieties, the easier it’ll be for you to avoid it!
During Your Flight:
Your may also like: Travel Hacks for International Flights
Choose an Aisle Seat
Fearful fliers, we’re looking at you! Aerophobia is often a combination of claustrophobia and the fear of heights, so being in an aisle seat is the best option for you. With an aisle seat, you have the option to get up and wiggle your worries out as often as you need to without having to cross over other passengers. At the same time, you’ll be far away from the window, which means there’s no way for you to look down at how high up you are.
Make Friends with the People Around You
You’re all cramped up in the air together, so chances are that you’ll come across another person who has their own kind of fear of flying. Introduce yourself to your flight crew and your neighbors and tell them of your anxiety. By knowing what to expect ahead of time, they might be more understanding of your reactions and less annoyed about you disrupting their beauty sleep with your frequent breaks. On the flip side, your crew members are pros when it comes to flying, so they’ve probably encountered dozens of fearful fliers. By informing them of your nervousness, they may be able to help ease your woes with advice, reassurance or even a nice snack to calm you down.
Practice a Mid-flight Method
Feeling anxious mid-flight? Since you can’t exactly jog out the jitters while you’re on the aircraft, try and aim for some muscle relaxation instead. Starting down at your toes and moving all the way up to your nose, tighten each muscle throughout your body, take a deep breath and then release a few seconds later. Not only will this relieve some of the adrenaline, but it will also divert your attention away from that measly anxiety.
Get Your Head in the Game!
Does it feel like you’re failing in the game of draining out your adrenaline? Well, then it’s time to turn to games themselves! Playing a visually stimulating game on your mobile phone, tablet or laptop is a great way to use up that extra adrenaline pumping through your veins. So, time to finally beat that Candy Crush score!
Have any tips of your own to defeat the fear of flying? Share them in the comments section!