You want to book that vacation of a lifetime but you’re terrified of flying? Well, have no fear because there are many things you can do to help you overcome most, if not all, of that terrible anxiety. It’s difficult for people to understand who don’t suffer from extreme anxiety just how debilitating it can be. Here are some top tips to help nervous flyers:
#1 Ditch the Caffeine
In the couple of hours before a flight, avoid caffeine entirely. You might feel you need it to calm your nerves but it will have the opposite effect. Caffeine increases stress and can make you feel on edge and jittery, which is the last thing you need when you’re already feeling anxious. Choose caffeine free soft drinks or even better, water. Flying can make you dehydrated so get enough water will make you feel better physically.
#2 Get the App
There are some great apps to help you prepare for flying. Learning breathing techniques is proven to help reduce stress so apps like Breathe2Relax are perfect for getting you into the right frame of mind. Any app that focuses on anxiety and fear of flying could be useful and there are hundreds of them so keep trying until you find one you like.
#3 Speak to the Crew
There is nobody better placed to reassure you about your flight than the flight attendants. Let them know you’re a nervous flyer and they could have some great tips, offering empathy and information to make you feel more at ease.
#4 Stay Distracted
Be prepared to distract yourself by taking a book, puzzles or any other means of distraction that you feel will be effective. Keeping your mind occupied with sudoku or word searches will help you to refrain from focusing on the sounds of the plane or feeling anxious every time a touch of turbulence hits. Watch a DVD, listen to music, take some peppermint candies ort something scented with lavender to keep you calm.
#5 Mentally Prepare
As soon as you book the flight you can start preparing yourself mentally by practising calming techniques. Think about the fear that you feel and try to understand where it comes from so when it does strike, you can be armed with coping strategies. Focus on the positive and the desire to get to the destination, traveling with a calm person if you are able to. Remember that air travel is still the safest form of transport.
#6 Learn the Technical Stuff
For dealing with a fear of flying – ignorance is not bliss. Anxiety often materializes as a fear of fear itself and has little to do with the mechanics of flying. Many people worry about having a panic attack on the plane but learning more about what is happening around you and how it all works gives you more power in the form of knowledge and understanding. Find out about how planes fly, what happens during take-off and landing and why turbulence sometimes occurs.
#7 Book a Course
Many airlines run courses especially for nervous flyers. Thousands of people have overcome their fears by attending one of these courses. There will be a session covering technical aspects of flight, a further session examining psychology and finally a short flight. If your fear is ruining your chance to have a vacation or visit loved ones abroad, then one of these courses could be just the ticket.
#8 Plane Position
If you can, choose seats at the front of the plane. If turbulence occurs, it always feels worse towards the rear of the aircraft. Make check-in aware of your problem and see if they can assist with moving you forward, if you miss out on a seat at the front.
#9 Check Your Breathing
As the plane begins taxiing, don’t revert to shallow breathing but concentrate on the calming breathing techniques you have learned beforehand. Breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth as steadily and slowly as you can. It might sound simple but this kind of breathing technique will stop a panic attack.
#10 Take a Nap
This might sound impossible when you’re so wound up but running on adrenaline and anxiety is exhausting so at some point your body will crave some rest and relaxation. If you practise your calm breathing technique, spend some time reading a good book and stay well hydrated, you should be soothed enough to take a nap at some point. If it helps, put headphones on and listen to relaxing music. Taking a nap is a great way to pass some time and you’ll feel a bit more refreshed when you reach your destination.