Thinking about traveling a lot this holiday season? Are you filled with dread when thinking of stepping on a plane? If so, I know how you feel. That used to be me. I beat my fear of flying with some simple mind hacks that took me from hating air travel to loving it, and you can too.
Let me first say that I am not a psychologist, I do not pretend to know the inner workings of the body’s fear and anxiety mechanisms. The following ideas are just what helped me and some friends overcome this fear.
1. Build The Right Mindset BEFORE You Fly
Beating your fear of flying can be tough, that’s why a determined mindset is a must. Anticipatory anxiety is what we experience in anticipation of a fear, but it is not an accurate predictor of how you will feel on the flight. It is frequently far greater than what you actually experience, so try to relax and visualize overcoming that fear before it happens.
2. Learn About How Flying Works
Knowing the basic physics about how a plane flies may help your mind from racing to the image you remember from any movies with severe (unrealistic) airplane turbulence scenes. It’s important to know that the lift created by the airplane wings allow fairly smooth gliding even without the thrust of engines. Commercial airplanes are very meticulously maintained, serviced, and are inspected before and after every flight. If your fear is turbulence, think of it as potholes in the road. Turbulence is just pockets of unsteady air in the otherwise smooth sky.
3. Distract Yourself
Almost all flights have WiFi and entertainment on them now. Throw on a movie or TV show and get lost in it. There is usually a good selection, so choose something you’ll enjoy and act as if you were in the comfort of your own home! Bring some soothing music with you and use it to relax yourself into calmness.
4. There’s an App For That
There around 5-10 apps that help with the fear of flying. Among the most popular are Soar and Valk. Both help you through the moments that make you anxious while flying. Soar is free and has great “flying tools” and videos. With Valk, for $3.99 you will always have an “in-flight therapist” to help combat your fear of flying. The app was created by the Valk foundation with scientifically backed methods of combating fears. The foundation boasts a 98% success rate in helping patients overcome their fears.
5. Separate Fear From Danger
It is often difficult to separate anxiety from danger because your body reacts in exactly the same way to both. Be sure to label your fear as anxiety. Tell yourself that anxiety makes your freighting thoughts feel more likely to occur, and remind yourself that feeling anxious doesn’t mean you are in danger. You are safe even when feeling intense anxiety.
6. Start Small
Your first flight when you’re trying to overcome your fear of flying shouldn’t be from Las Vegas to Tokyo. Start small, take a flight from the Northeast down to Florida, Fly from California over to Las Vegas! These flights between 1 and 3 hours will ease you in to becoming more comfortable on airplanes. Once you have a couple short flights under your belt book some longer flights – east coast to west cost, east coast to Europe, or south east to Latin America. Keep gradually increasing your flights until you’ve caught the travel bug and are comfortable with flying.
7. If All Else Fails, Have a Drink
When that beverage cart comes around grab a glass of wine. The depressant attributes of alcohol with help the Central Nervous System calm down. A calmer mind will lead to less anxiety and a more peaceful flight. At the same time you should avoid coffee or other drinks with caffeine as they will have the opposite effect on your CNS.