How to Combat a Fear of Flying

This is a collection of tips and tricks we’ve heard can transform a fearful flier into a veritable Lord of the Skies. Some are genuine methods we’ve stolen from clever psychologically-trained types, some are less erm, scientifically verified (i.e. those made up by yours truly) but may still calm your quaking boots for a moment or two. Maybe.

• Know what to expect: Without knowing what to expect at the airport and on the flight itself, your mind will go into overdrive. Familiarize yourself with the sights and sounds of flying. Understand the bumps and movements of an airplane. Apparently getting an idea of what flying is actually like beforehand will help you form a realistic impression of what you’re experiencing during take-off or when the plane hits turbulence.

• Talk to friends who have flown. Ask them to describe the process from start to finish.

• Find the most attractive man (or woman) you can, make whoever is sitting next to him swap with you and make conversation with chosen hunk… rabidly so, if necessary, at least until the plane has taken off. Being engaged in conversation with a pretty face is scientifically proven to distract even the most distraught of plane-janes.

• We’ve all heard the saying: “You’re more likely to die in a car accident on the way to the airport than on the plane.” This is true. Statistics show you are in fact 500-1000 times more likely to meet your end on the road. Obviously this statistic isn’t going to completely allay all your fears but it might help you to rationalise slightly before you’re about to faint into the arms of Jerome the flight attendant.

• Let me introduce you to your new friend, Xanax. Think of it as that super chilled buddy we all know and love who’s great at calming a brother down when Major Freakout comes to town. Obviously it’s ideal if you can get through the flight without chemical assistance – but if you can’t… you have options. Obviously you should consult your GP before you start taking anti-anxiety medication.

• Have a gin. Or two. Or three. But not four. Taking the edge off is the aim, not a police escort at the other end. (also not a good idea to combine this with this tip above!)

• Watch a movie; there’s nothing like a good Tom Hanks weepy to make your journey fly by (sorry…)

• You can take courses like Virgin Atlantic’s Fear Of Flying course, which will use education about aircraft and flying as well as other methods to help you to overcome your fears. It may be £249 for a whole day, but it’s a total bargain when you think about how much fun you’ll have arriving in the Maldives for that holiday of a lifetime.

• Meditation – this can help calm your nerves, and if nothing else might facilitate blissfully ignorant sleep!

• There is a technique whereby you increase your symptoms of tension and worry whilst on the flight, and this should in turn trick your body (when you do finally allow yourself to relax) into thinking that it’s more relaxed than it really is. This uses a technique called the ‘ten second grip’ where you grip the sides of your chair and tense your whole body, increasing your heartbeat and mimicking the feeling of stress, before releasing and, theoretically, relaxing! We’re not convinced, but it might be worth a try…

Top image by lrargerich