Flying can be a stressful and exhausting ordeal for some people.
Maybe you fear a crash, a technical malfunction, or terrorism. Maybe the thought of being stuck in a small space with strangers makes you uneasy.
Sometimes the images we’ve seen on TV intrude into our thoughts and cause us to envision tragic outcomes. Or sometimes, the hassles of security checkpoints delayed flights, and lost luggage cause stress.
You might be focusing on the wrong aspects of flying and making it much more stressful than it needs to be. Your imagination can make it seem like danger is imminent, but in reality, flying is the safest form of long-distance travel.
Tips For Reducing Flight Anxiety
If your fear of flying is preventing you from getting somewhere, programs like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can help you confront your fears and give you tools to overcome them.
There are also a few things you can do on your own to reduce your anxiety in the air.
Monitor Your Thoughts
Some people aren’t even aware of their negative thoughts. They might be playing over and over again in your head without you even realizing it.
Make an effort to observe these thought patterns. Write them down, or tell someone how you feel. Trying to suppress our thoughts and feelings could make them stronger.
What thoughts are triggering this fear? Are they based in reality? What self-talk would encourage a more positive mood?
Shift Your Attention
If you’re fixated on worrying worst-case scenarios, try redirecting your focus elsewhere.
Your mind has limited resources. When you’re preoccupied with negative thoughts, your brain can’t focus on anything else. And likewise, if you are concentrated on something more positive, you prevent yourself from obsessing about possible dangers that are extremely unlikely.
Rather than going over past events or worrying about the future, bring your attention to the present moment. Become aware of your breathing, your posture, and how your body is feeling right now in this moment.
Is your awareness stuck in an anxiety-inducing fantasy? What distraction would entertain and engage you enough to pull away from your negative thoughts?
Other Anxiety-Reducing Tricks
Make sure you get enough sleep in the nights leading up to your flight. Tiredness and sleep deprivation can increase anxiety symptoms.
Eat healthy foods. It may be tempting to use comfort foods, alcohol, or drugs to relieve your anxiety, but these are poor coping strategies that can make your problem worse.
Mindfulness meditation can help you to reclaim your sense of inner calm, relaxation, and focus. Even simple deep breathing exercises can help.
Try to practice some of these techniques before your flight, and then bring them with you onto the plane.
Flying doesn’t have to be an obstacle. Getting out of your comfort zone is a great way to increase your confidence and wellbeing.
You can reframe this experience into an opportunity to grow, heal, and discover what you’re capable of.