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Yes, I’m an avid traveler who’s afraid of flying.
Every time my flight starts boarding I feel the knot in my stomach flip and get just a little tighter. My mind starts to race with intrusive thoughts, made worse only with each bump and bounce of turbulence.
So, what’s my solution to fight my anxiety and get over my fear of flying? It’s definitely not to never fly again! There are just too many places to see and discover. Instead, I use these 5 methods help calm me down and get over my fear of flying.
1. Take A Good Book
Seriously, it seems simple, but I’ve found over the years that airplane movies just don’t cut it. The only way I can really escape from reality and get over my fear of flying is with a really good book.
If you find an interesting one that captures your attention, put it down and save it for your next flight. Trust me, you’ll be so glad you did when you get drawn into the story and soon feel the plane touch down without even noticing the flight has passed!
Need a recommendation? Some great reads I’ve recently enjoyed are Marching Powder, Live From New York, The Geography of Bliss, and The Lost City of the Monkey God.
2. Repeat a Prayer or Mantra in Your Mind
I don’t do yoga or meditation, but I imagine this is the poor man’s version of the two.
If you’ve boarded your flight and can’t get the thought of a fiery death out of your mind, pick a short and simple phrase to repeat. This can help fight the intrusive thoughts and anxious feelings associated with your fear of flying.
Anytime you realize your thoughts have wandered from your mantra, simply return them back to it. I often use this method to get over my fear of flying when it’s really bad and I can’t focus on a book. Anything easy and repetitive will do – you’ll start to zone out and relax in no time.
3. Try to Sleep
Easier said than done right?
If you’re like me and don’t take sleeping pills, don’t worry, there’s still hope. I was NEVER be able to sleep on airplanes until I started doing this one simple trick. Download a white noise app on your phone and blast it into your earphones. It drowns out everything else around you and helps take you out of your current situation and into dreamland.
Classical music can also do the trick, but listening to anything with words that I know and can sing along to usually only distracts me more and keeps me wide awake. If you haven’t tried using white noise to help with your fear of flying yet, download an app today.
4. Do Your Research
Fear is not always logical, but you can use logic to combat it.
Statistically speaking, you’re safer on your flight than you were while driving to and from the airport! Check out this live radar map showing all current flights. There are an insane amount of planes in the air at any given time, and none of them are going down. Flights rarely crash, it only seems much more common because the media coverage is so intense when they do.
On top of that, did you know that a plane has NEVER crashed from turbulence alone? There are so many safety checks in place that Malcom Gladwell theorizes that seven things have to go wrong at once for a flight to go down. That means even if your pilot has a heart attack while flying into a hurricane, you’re still going to land safely at your destination.
5. Keep an Eye on the Stewardesses
Someone gave me this tip once years ago, and I’ve kept it in the back of my mind ever since.
Hear a weird sound, feel a strange bump or think you smell something wrong on the plane? It’s probably just your anxiety getting the best of you, but how can you be sure? Keep an eye on the stewardesses.
They fly every day and are in tune with every function of the plane. If something wasn’t right, they would be the first to notice and take charge. Usually, when you’re busy freaking out, they’re smiling and serving food without a care in the world. Take your cue from them, and don’t worry until they do!
Flying isn’t always easy or enjoyable, but it’s definitely necessary for travelers like me to continue doing what I love. Hopefully, these five tips and tricks that I use to get over my fear of flying can help make your next trip a little more bearable. Let me know in the comments below which one works for you!