CONFESSION: Despite having spent several years taking trips via air plane, in my early 20’s, I was suddenly becoming terrified to fly. The crazy thing is…this fear came out of nowhere. I had flown many years with no problems. I can’t signify what event or what chain of events lead to my sudden fear of flying. Many frequent flyers would blame 9/11 but even after that disaster, I was able to head over to an airport and jump on a plane with no problem. While I couldn’t identify what caused my fear of flying, I knew one thing was for sure – it had to disappear. I certainly wasn’t going to spend the rest of my life missing out on travels due to some measly fear. It’s been a good 4-5 years since the fear has dispelled, but after receiving an email from a friend who was distraught after missing out on an amazing opportunity because of her fear of flying, I thought of the idea to find ways to help her cope. Of course, I am far from a professional when it comes to combating fears but as someone who dealt with this firsthand, I found that a combination of these tips were helpful in my recovery.
1. Fly first class.
Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Exactly how can spending a few more hundred dollars on a flight help your fear of flying? I’m not sure. But it definitely worked for me. Flying across the country is already pretty nerve-racking but doing so in a middle seat with very little room to move around for 4.5 hours is torture. The first class experience made going from Georgia to California so incredibly comfortable that I almost forgot that I was “supposed” to be afraid. Of course, this isn’t the most budget-friendly solution but if you can afford it or want to find an extra way to splurge on air travel, this would be the way to go.
2. Learn about air crashes.
Knowledge is power and realizing that commercial air plane crashes aren’t regular occurrences can help put things into perspective. Don’t believe me? Check out this article from a flight attendant who also found that learning about crashes can be the ultimate cure for those afraid of flying. It makes sense. The more you know about emergency situations when it comes to air travel (and how rarely they happen), the more confident you’ll be in your pilots and airlines.
3. Realize that road travel is more dangerous.
Not to swap one anxiety for another, but if you travel by car, bus or taxi regularly, your chances of getting into an accident are way more likely than if you were flying. We associate being in the air with something to fear, but in reality, the roadways are far more dangerous. Realizing this made me feel a little better about air travel. After all, if I can trust that the drivers driving around me are alert and paying attention (and chances are they all AREN’T), then why shouldn’t I trust the pilot and his team on the aircraft?
4. Reinforce positive thinking.
A positive attitude can work wonders, even when it comes to combating fears. Making the statement “This trip is going to be horrible. I’m going to get sick and will have a miserable time on this 3 hour flight.” already puts you in a fearful mode. Even if those sentiments are true, having a positive attitude well certainly make things a little better mentally. If you’ve got a flight coming up and you’re beginning to feel overwhelmed, say something along the lines of “This is going to be a great flight. It’s going to be a great experience.”
5. Seek therapy.
If all else fails, don’t hesitate to seek medical help. Fears and anxieties shouldn’t get in the way of living and if you feel as if there is nothing you can do, reach out to someone who can.
Are you afraid of flying? Or have you ever been afraid of flying? If you’ve got any tips to share, please let us know!