Does flying freak you out? Do your palms sweat at the thought? Or, if you gather the courage to board the plane, do you have an anxiety attack? If you can relate to these situations, you are not alone. According to research from BMC Psychiatry, 25% of adults report having flight anxiety or aviophobia, with 10% opting out of flying altogether due to debilitating fear. It can happen for many reasons, including turbulence, the feeling of falling or a fear of crashing. Whatever the reason, you will probably have to travel someday and so find ways to overcome your anxiety. So, why not give yourself a fresh start? Here are some effective travel tips to help make your flying experience less stressful and more exciting.
Nervous About Flying? 8 Travel Tips to Overcome Flight Anxiety
1) Prepare Yourself Mentally
You should prepare yourself mentally so you learn to manage your stress before arriving at the airport. Recognize and realize that your fears are not based on reality. Ask yourself whether you are ready to get through the discomfort and overcome your fear. Once you do this, you will be in a better position to take care of yourself once the anxiety sets in.
2) Allow Yourself Enough Time to Get to the Airport
A good travel experience for a nervous flyer is all about finding strategies to minimize the stress of flying. One such strategy is to ensure you leave enough time to pack and reach the airport with plenty of time to spare. This is necessary to get yourself accustomed to the environment and avoid triggering an anxiety attack in the rush to catch your flight. So, make sure you pack your essentials at least a day in advance. Also, book an airline limo beforehand to ensure you comfortably reach the airport on time. This step reduces the risk and unnecessary stress of hailing a cab at the last moment.
3) Keep Yourself Occupied
A long flight screams boredom, and boredom leads to overthinking, and overthinking leads to anxiety. Staying busy and keeping yourself entertained throughout the flight is an effective way to distract yourself from your fear. If you are afraid of turbulence, then you could simply watch movies or listen to music to keep yourself occupied. Just make sure you have enough activities to last the flight.
4) Avoid Alcohol
Resist the temptation to hit the airport bar pre-flight. Drinking alcohol, even a small glass of wine or beer, can magnify your flight anxiety. Flying also dehydrates you, as does alcohol, so combining the two will make things worse. Drink water instead.
5) Say No to Sugary Drinks
As flying is dehydrating, sipping water throughout the flight is a good idea. Sipping sugary soft drinks, though? Not so much. Consuming sugar in large quantities can stress your body, increasing your nervousness. This is because one of the primary causes of stress is high blood sugar. If your glucose level is kept between 75 to 95 ng/dl, there is nothing to worry about. However, fluctuations trigger stress.
6) Practice Breathing Exercises
Another calming technique for nervous flyers is to practice soothing breathing. This might seem obvious, but it is one of the best ways to stop a panic attack. Calm breathing can be used when you are feeling anxious or panicky. Follow these steps:
- Take a long, slow breath in through your nose.
- Fill your lungs.
- Hold your breath and count to three.
- Exhale slowly through pursed lips while relaxing your facial muscles, jaws, shoulders and stomach.
7) Focus on the Positive
Nervous flyers are likely to notice every little detail of negative stories about air crashes and hijacking. They also completely ignore all the positive information, such as the fact that flying is by far the safest method of travel. As a result, they overthink and become anxious. To avoid this, focus more on the positive aspects of travel and get rid of negativity. Instead of researching safety statistics, create a bucket list of what you will do when you reach your destination. If you are on vacation, think of all the fun you will have when you get there.
8) Try to Sleep
People who dread boarding a plane generally don’t sleep because they are uncomfortable. However, you should try, in order to relax your body and mind. Bring whatever you need to aid sleep and make yourself comfortable. And don’t forget to carry a neck pillow so that you don’t wake up with neck pain.
Aviophobia, aerophobia or flight anxiety can be dealt with if you have a positive approach and the motivation to overcome your fears. These helpful tips and calming strategies can manage your stress. However, if your anxiety attacks are becoming severe and you are avoiding travel at the expense of your own or other’s convenience, consider talking to someone about it.