We welcome back guest author Gemma Luton who is a freelance writer. In this article, Gemma discussed the fear of flying and gives some practical suggestions on how we can deal with this fear.
Sometimes, all the best advice and information shared with us by family and friends about how safe flying actually is, doesn’t help. It doesn’t stop our palms from sweating, or our worst fears from running through our mind. It doesn’t stop us from hyperventilating when panic strikes or make the process of flying any easier.
The Affect of Fear
I think we can all agree, that a fear of flying can stop us from experiencing life to the full; it can limit our opportunities for new experiences in life. Truly living involves moving away from our comfort zone occasionally by discovering new sights, sounds and flavours and the opportunity of meeting people we have so much in common with, despite living continents away. Added to this, a fear of flying does not affect just the individual, it can affect their whole family; imagine as summer arrives, a person with a fear of flying can start to “feel the heat” as family members lament the fact that once again, they have to stay home instead of flying off on holiday.
Fear can limit our opportunities and enjoyment in life.
Seeking professional help is always indicated for those living with phobia as there is often a deep-seated reason behind it. A therapist can help with very entrenched patterns of thought and emotion and guide you to re-frame them; in effect, help you find a positive outlet for your fear and anxiety. One of the kindest forms of treatment, discovered by Bob, would be the use of Rewind as it doesn’t require the person to relive the phobia (or trauma) to gain that much needed relief.
There is often a deep-seated reason behind phobia.
7 Ways to Battle Fear
Other than professional guidance, below are some of my thoughts on how you might soothe your anxiety:
1. Know your statistics: Flying is the safest means of travel. If you drive your car, take the bus or train to work – you usually feel quite safe during your journey, don’t you? Knowing the statistics may not help you get rid of the deep fear that takes hold when you fly, but telling yourself repeatedly that the odds of anything happen are too remote to stand in the way of your dreams of travel… may help a little.
2. Know your triggers: By facing the people (or situations) that trigger your phobia – when your anxiety is at a low level – can help build up your tolerance to that phobia. Give it a try!
3. Learn to breathe: Across the globe, yoga and mindful meditation are proving to be very successful complementary therapies when it comes to treating everything from depression to anxiety. Much of the secret has to do with the mindful attention required – thus enabling the mind to be present and remain in the ‘here and now’. Breathing is another reason why yoga and meditation have proven so successful in numerous randomised studies. Pranayamic (or controlled) breathing soothes our parasympathetic system; it lowers our breathing rate, for instance, stopping us from flooding our system with too much oxygen (which causes us to hyperventilate).
4. Learn to fly: This may sound like the last thing you would ever want to do but if you have the means and time to do so, why not take control of the situation by learning to pilot a plane? Clay Presley, an entrepreneur from North Carolina, did just that after surviving an accident and developing a phobia. He has not only overcome his fear but actually views flying as a cherished pastime.
5. Eliminate other sources of worry: Sometimes, an anxiety attack can be spurred on-board, by problems that have little to do with flying. These can include worries about an existing medical condition, consternation about what will happen during our travels (ie travelling somewhere risky or taking part in adventure activities while abroad) or worries about problems at work or at home. By trying to eliminate these problems before you fly can help make things easier; visit your doctor to ensure any health conditions are under control, take out the right insurance coverage if pertinent, and settle unresolved issues with loved ones. If you can board the plane with less worries, instead of a sensation of being plagued by them, it may help.
6. Know that you can outsmart anxiety: Anxiety is a myth – think about it… Anxiety fools you into thinking you are in danger when, in reality, you are safe. Our ‘fight or flight’ response is handy when our lives are at risk (ie when we are about to be attacked and we need to either flee the scene or fight our attacker) BUT when we are travelling on the safest form of transport available, and our fight or flight response kicks in, our mind falls for that ‘anxiety trick’ – one that we can learn to stop in its tracks. It will take work and often requires professional help but it can be done.
7. Don’t be afraid to ask for help: Asking for help doesn’t imply that we are weak AND remember you are not alone! Speak to the flight staff (or other passengers) about the things they can do to help you and be very specific about the assistance they can give you.
Asking for help doesn’t imply that we are weak…
Bob Brotchie is a counsellor, mindset consultant and creator of "Conscious Living by Design"™. He writes for Anglia Counselling, is featured on various other websites and introduces us to many guest writers all covering topics related to mental health and wellbeing.
Bob provides bespoke counselling services to individuals and couples in the privacy and comfort of a truly welcoming environment at his Anglia Counselling company office, located near Newmarket in Suffolk, England. Bob also provides professional online counselling, for local, national, and international clients. The therapeutic models offered are bespoke to the client’s needs, especially those in receipt of 'childhood emotional neglect' (CEN), whilst integrating a mindful approach to psychotherapy and cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) principles. For clients experiencing trauma and/or phobia, Bob offers EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing).