What goes through someone’s mind when they are fearful of flying? Will they make it, will they be able to breathe, what if they become infected by being close to someone with Covid-19 or the flu?
These are just a few anxious thoughts that people with a fear of flying experience. Whether that fear is based on fact or purely an unfounded belief, the fear being experienced at the time is genuine to the aviophobiac.
Twenty million Americans experience fear of flying, and that number is only likely to increase once flights are less restricted again. So how do you overcome fear of flying? We’ll get to that shortly, first, let’s delve into what fear of flying is.
What Exactly Is Fear Of Flying?
The official word for fear of flying is called Aviophobia, and people who have this may have other phobias as well. The commonly related phobias which may be present in would-be travelers are:
- Claustrophoica – a fear of being in a confined space
- Agoraphobia – a fear of heights
- Basophobia – a fear of falling
- Nosophobia – a fear of being infected
Is Fear Of Flying Rational?
According to the Discovery Channel, there is a one in 11 million chance of dying in a plane crash, but one in 5,000 dying in a car. Yet many people fear flying but not driving. That’s due in part to the level of control you have while driving a vehicle. After all, it is you behind the wheel of a car, but you have to leave it to the pilot to fly the plane.
What Causes People To Experience Fear Of Flying?
Seeing reports in the news about people catching Covid-19 from others on a plane, will be a significant cause of Agrophobia at the moment. Before that, the Twin Towers collapsing in 2001 from an act of terrorism had people fearing flying the world over.
Some people have been regular flyers never worrying about flying, and then one day, their fear just appears out of nowhere. Not everyone will be able to attribute a cause as to why they fear flying. However, many of us can attribute our fear due to the news media coverage of accidents or infections.
Physical Signs Of Fear Of Flying
When people are about to board, or once onboard a plane or in the air, they may experience the following physical symptoms:
- A racing heartbeat
- Sweaty palms
- A trembling sensation
- Feeling nauseous
- Becoming short of breath
- Feeling like they are choking
These physical signs of anxiety or panic may change throughout the flight. Some people may be more anxious while taking off or landing, while others are panicked from when they arrive at the airport until when they leave after their flight.
Even the most normally rational people can experience Aviophobia
Rational people will attempt to be logical the entire flight, but as soon as their trigger occurs, they can no longer reconcile how they feel. The slightest turbulence, bump, or unexpected flight movement can trigger their fear once they are about to board, or on the plane.
Fear Of Flying Impacts On Daily Life
Chronic Aviophobia will stop many people from ever getting on a plane. Holidays will be taken in other forms of transport such as cars, trains, and boats—anything but air travel.
Never traveling by plane can have a significant detriment to one’s career, for example:
- Turning down job opportunities both domestic and internationally
- Refusing to attend conferences or training where that requires air travel
- They generally appear to be “not part of the team” at work.
Personal life can also be significantly impacted, with events being missed, such as:
- Significant family events such as weddings, christenings, anniversaries and funerals
- Holidays with friends won’t happen when one side refuses to fly to see another.
- Catching up with friends in exotic locations is never an option.
Also, you better not try internet dating if your potential partner is a long way away, as the chances of you ever meeting are reduced by 50% if you won’t fly to meet them.
7 Tested Ways To Overcome Fear Of Flying
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT teaches learning skills so that their thoughts can be replaced with more positive and constructive thoughts, which are very pertinent to being on a plane.
It offers a holistic approach to mental health care and is not just used for fear of flying. One example is if people start having trouble breathing when on a plane, they would be taught to breathe deeply using their diaphragm until they become desensitized to that specific trigger.
There are group programs available in some cities that go to airports and conduct education. People can see first hand all the safety procedures which are in place, and they get to practice their CBT techniques until their fears subside.
Hypnotherapy For Fear Of Flying
The outcome of having been hypnotized may be similar to a successful CBT program. However, it may occur a lot faster if you can be successfully hypnotized.
Hypnosis works on the subconscious mind, which is the part of the brain, which produces panic, fear, or anxiety. After a successful hypnosis treatment, the traveler may even feel excited to get on a plane again.
While some people may have success after one treatment, others may take multiple sessions before their fear is overcome. It may not work for everyone, but it can be one of the easiest ways to overcome a phobia of any kind.
Meditation For Flyers
Meditation can help you get out of your head (where the irrational fears live), and into your heart where you can find calm. Guided meditations help you focus on sounds of nature or even just your breathing.
You can download a meditation app which will have a series of guided meditations, or learn to meditate on your own, which you can then do anywhere and anytime.
While you may still experience anxious thoughts while flying, meditation may help to put some time and perspective around those thoughts, to soften them.
Doctors Can Prescribe Prescription Drugs
While it might be tempting to self medicate by having excessive alcohol while flying, you do need to be in control when you go through customs and possibly drive at your destination. Doctors can prescribe medication to calm your nerves for the time period you need to be relaxed.
Medication may not be everyone’s first preference, but it is a valid option for some to help manage their fear of flying. Doctors tend to prescribe benzodiazepines like Xanax and Ativan for Aviophobia, which are fast-acting and can stay in the body for hours, typically enough for an overseas trip.
Taking prescription drugs will not overcome your fear of flying, but it is listed here as an option that may help get you in the air and flying.
Neurofeedback Therapy For A Range Of Anxiety
Seeking out a neurofeedback specialist can assist you in overcoming several fears or anxiety, and getting your brain waves to run in a more “normal” pattern. This can involve having a QEGG, where your brainwaves are read, and the patterns analyzed.
Then after a series of treatments, your brainwaves are sent different signals in a very controlled manner, and over time, you should have most or all your anxieties treated. This can be quite an expensive option, but if you are able to try it, it could be life-changing.
Another QEGG will measure the changes, which then prove what has changed.
Bellabee Helps With Fear Of Flying
The Bellabee device can help with fear of flying. You can use it while at the airport and during your flight. The Anti-Anxiety setting would be the most useful setting, but you could also try using the Anti-Stress mode.
Another way to use the Bellabee while flying is to use the Meditation setting, and distract yourself that way. Using the Bellabee requires no drugs, no therapy, no talking, so it can be one of the easiest and cheapest ways to genuinely help with your fears.
You may find success in combining a number of above options. For instance, having hypnosis, practicing meditation while flying, and wearing the Bellabee.
One final option is simply to feel the fear and fly anyway. Let’s call that option 7. Flying while in a state of fear is what a lot of people are doing when they fly. However, while you continue to feel the anxiety, you will be feeding the fear, and not actually helping yourself.
Why not try and overcome your fear of flying and get your life back on track.