dark mode light mode Search
Search
This is an image of what to do if you feel anxious.

Coping with Flight Anxiety: Tips to Make Your Journey Easier

Are you dreading your next flight due to fear of flying? You’re not alone. Millions of people worldwide experience anxiety or even panic when flying, often causing dizziness and even a full-blown panic attack. Don’t let your fear of flying stop you from living life to the fullest. In this blog post, we’ll discuss about coping with flight anxiety and provide tips to make your journey easier.

Understanding Flight Anxiety

Understanding flight anxiety is the first step towards managing it effectively. It’s important to know that flight anxiety is a common phenomenon that affects many individuals. The fear of flying can stem from various factors, including past traumatic experiences, claustrophobia, fear of heights, or a general lack of control. By educating yourself about the causes and symptoms of flight anxiety, you can begin to develop strategies for managing and overcoming it. Remember, knowledge is power, and understanding flight anxiety is the first step towards feeling better about it. Doctors who specialize in aviation medicine can offer guidance for this particular problem. Here are a few good sources:

Common Triggers for Flight Anxiety

Flight anxiety can be triggered by a variety of factors. One common trigger is past traumatic experiences, such as a previous flight with severe turbulence or an emergency landing. Claustrophobia, or the fear of confined spaces, can also contribute to flight anxiety, as can a fear of heights. Another trigger is a general lack of control, as flying puts us in a situation where we have to rely on the pilot and crew for our safety. It’s important to identify these triggers so that we can better understand and manage our anxiety. Remember, knowing what not to do and how to manage anxiety is key to feeling better about it. Seeking support from specialists in aviation medicine can also provide valuable insight and assistance.

If you know your anxiety is causes by motion sickness or plane sickness have a look at my article called ‘Why do I Get Plane Sickness?’ on this site.

Pre-flight Preparation

Preparing for your flight can help ease your anxiety and make your journey more comfortable. Start by packing your carry-on with items that will help you feel calm and relaxed, such as a comforting book or playlist, noise-cancelling headphones, or a stress-relief toy. Take some time to familiarize yourself with the airport layout and procedures, so you know what to expect. Arrive at the airport early to avoid rushing and give yourself time to settle in before your flight. Taking these steps can help you feel more in control and prepared, ultimately leading to a better experience and feeling better about your anxiety.

Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques

When it comes to managing flight anxiety, mindfulness and relaxation techniques can be incredibly helpful. One technique is deep breathing, which involves taking slow, deep breaths in through your nose and exhaling slowly through your mouth. This can help you calm down and reduce anxiety. Another technique is progressive muscle relaxation, where you tense and then relax each muscle group in your body, starting from your toes and working your way up to your head. This can help release tension and promote relaxation. Additionally, practicing mindfulness meditation or guided imagery can help redirect your focus away from anxious thoughts and into the present moment. Experiment with different techniques to find what works best for you, and remember to be patient and kind to yourself throughout the process.

Distraction Methods During the Flight

During your flight, it can be helpful to distract yourself from your anxiety by engaging in various activities. One effective method is to bring along a book or magazine that you enjoy reading. Getting lost in a captivating story can help shift your focus away from anxious thoughts. Another option is to watch a movie or TV show on the in-flight entertainment system. This can provide a welcome distraction and help pass the time. If you prefer something more interactive, consider bringing a puzzle book or playing games on your phone or tablet. These activities can keep your mind occupied and prevent anxious thoughts from taking over. Remember to choose activities that you find enjoyable and engaging to effectively distract yourself during the flight.

Sometimes your ears sound different because the pop and hurt. You may want to read more about this on my article on Airplane Ear and Barotrauma.

Medication Options

If you’ve tried various coping strategies and still find yourself struggling with flight anxiety, medication options may be worth considering. There are medications available that can help reduce the symptoms of anxiety and make your flight more manageable. Anti-anxiety medications, such as benzodiazepines, can be prescribed by a healthcare professional to help calm your nerves. It’s important to consult with a doctor before taking any medication, as they can provide guidance on the appropriate dosage and potential side effects. Medication can be a valuable tool in managing flight anxiety, but it’s important to remember that it’s not a long-term solution. It’s always best to explore and utilize other strategies, such as relaxation techniques and professional support, to overcome your fear of flying.

Seek Professional Help if Needed

If you’ve tried various coping strategies and still find yourself struggling with flight anxiety, it may be beneficial to seek professional help. A mental health professional, such as a therapist or counselor, can provide you with the tools and support you need to overcome your fear of flying. They can help you explore the root causes of your anxiety, develop coping mechanisms, and provide guidance on how to manage your symptoms. Additionally, doctors who specialise in aviation medicine can offer specialized treatment and support for flight-related anxieties. Remember, seeking professional help is a sign of strength, and it can make a significant difference in your journey towards overcoming flight anxiety.

Overcoming Your Fear of Flying

Now that you have a better understanding of flight anxiety and have learned some coping strategies, it’s time to focus on overcoming your fear of flying. Remember, this is a journey, and it may take time and effort to fully overcome your anxiety. Start by setting small goals for yourself, such as taking shorter flights or practicing relaxation techniques during takeoff and landing. Gradually work your way up to longer flights and more challenging situations. Celebrate each milestone and acknowledge the progress you’re making. Surround yourself with a support system of friends, family, or professionals who can offer encouragement and guidance along the way. With determination and support, you can conquer your fear of flying and experience the joy of travel without anxiety holding you back.

If you want to delve deeper into the topic of flight anxiety and explore more strategies for coping with it, check out these helpful resources:

1. “Conquer Your Fear of Flying: Proven Techniques to Overcome Flight Anxiety” – This book by Captain Tom Bunn, a former airline pilot and licensed therapist, offers practical advice and strategies for overcoming flight anxiety.

2. “7 Tips to Ease Flight Anxiety” – This article from the Travel Channel provides expert advice from psychologists and frequent flyers on managing flight anxiety.

3. “Flight Anxiety: Strategies for Success” – This podcast episode from The Anxiety Coaches Podcast explores various strategies and techniques for overcoming flight anxiety, including relaxation exercises and cognitive behavioral therapy techniques.

Remember, these resources are just a starting point. There are many more articles, books, and podcasts available that can provide additional support and guidance on your journey to overcoming flight anxiety. Don’t hesitate to explore and find what works best for you.


Photo by Tonik on Unsplash

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *