The fear of flying is challenging because the best way to overcome it is through repetition. Unfortunately, recurrence is quite costly if you do not fly frequently enough. Some factors that cause fear of flying are not being in total control, enclosed spaces, and heights. Below are five tips to help you manage your airplane anxiety.
1. Seek a Therapist
Mental health professionals are beneficial for severe fear of flying. They help individuals overcome their fears through exposure and reaction prevention or cognitive behavioral therapy. Hypnosis is another alternative that programs the subconscious mind to release anxiety and control fear.
Some doctors prescribe fast-acting anti-anxiety medication such as Xanax to help nervous fliers. However, it is advisable to be aware of any side effects and know how long does a Xanax high last before taking any before your flight. It’s often comforting enough to know that the medication is nearby in case of an emergency.
2. Deciphering Turbulence
Turbulence refers to the irregular air motion from vertical currents and eddies that cause a plane to wobble slightly. Turbulence is normal but can be pretty unsettling. It is always important to remember that an airplane’s design endures and minimizes turbulence.
The design of most airplanes enables them to handle up to and including 5 G’s of turbulence-related forces, and all can survive at least 2.5 G’s. G-forces in mild turbulence vary from 0.8 to 1.2 G’s, similar to those experienced in moving elevators. Applications such as the SOAR app contain G-force meters and other tools that you can use to calm your fears on-board.
Some people worry when they look out their window and see the wing of the airplane flexing. However, flexing wings perform the same function on an airplane as shock absorbers do on a car when smoothing out bumpy rides. In recent years, pilots have predicted turbulent areas through technology and avoided them for the smoothest possible rides.
3. Relaxation Techniques
Deep breathing triggers a calming response and helps prevent hyperventilation during takeoffs or other anxiety-inducing points of a flight. The recommended breathing exercise is to fill your lower lungs with air, then your upper lungs.
After that, calmly exhale while relaxing your face, stomach, jaw, and shoulder muscles. Please focus on the sound of your breath and carefully observe any worries that interrupt your focus, then refocus on your breath. Calming the body also calms the mind, and vice versa.
The “10-Second Grip” is another technique that you can use. It involves gripping the armrests while simultaneously contracting your lower and upper arms, legs, and stomach. Hold this position for ten seconds before letting go while taking a full breath, then slowly exhaling. Repeating this process loosens the muscles, hence reducing your anxiety.
4. Distract Yourself
Most airlines provide comforts such as magazines, television, and music channels that help to distract you from the bumps and noises of a flight. People subconsciously associate televisions with the feeling of being safe, so they provide calmness when flying.
Another way to distract yourself during a flight is to come with a book that you have started and are already invested in. In addition, you can get a season or series of your best-liked television show. However, some people find it hard to lose themselves in a good television show or podcast.
Puzzles and brain teasers can be beneficial to such people. For example, you can use your weaker hand to write your name repeatedly on a piece of paper in case of any turbulence. This sharpens the brain and keeps it focused on the task at hand while simultaneously distracting you from any fears.
5. Avoid Coffee and Alcohol
Alcohol and caffeine can aggravate anxiety issues and leave you feeling dehydrated during a flight. While a pre-flight alcoholic beverage may seem comforting to nervous fliers, it instead makes it harder for the body to settle when airborne.
It often brings about jet lag. A better alternative to alcohol and caffeine is a light pre-flight meal, water, or to carry light snacks such as an apple, nuts, or carrots sticks. Herbal tea is also helpful in calming the nerves as opposed to caffeine.