Hiding under the bed helps, but it doesn’t get you anywhere. You can’t pack yourself in a suitcase or drown that dread at the airport bar. The cost of fancy therapies that promise to teach you how to overcome a fear of flying can finance a trip to Europe. Of course, that would mean boarding a plane. This is your phobia, and you need simple strategies like these to send it permanently packing:
Conquer Planes With Brain Power
If amygdalae had switches, you could just turn off these tiny fight-or-flight glands. Calm down your built-in alarms by educating the thinking part of your brain with some comforting facts. All planes fly with multiple engines, so mechanical failure isn’t a realistic way you’ll fall from the sky. Also, for every hour a jet flies through the air, it’s been treated to an average of 11 hours of professional maintenance. And think of turbulence as the equivalent of a bumpy road; parts of the plane’s wings really are supposed to move when it’s airborne.
Or how about this fun fact: Your odds of winning the lottery are one in a million. The odds that your plane will crash is about one in 11 million. The only forms of transportation with lower accident rates are escalators and elevators, and you’re not so afraid of those, right? Keep up the factual self-talk and remind yourself that planes are actually incredibly reliable–it’s easier to believe this when you know more about them.
Beat the Devil With Details
Whoever said getting there is half the fun probably relied on plenty of advanced planning. Elevate that strategy to an altitude that beats your devils into submission with control over the details. Make reservations in advance, fly during the day, and book a direct flight that minimizes your travel time through the friendly skies.
Larger airlines offer bigger planes and smoother rides, so stay away from puddle jumpers. Get to know the lay of your airport’s land before the trip. Familiarity helps clobber fear because you know what to expect. When it’s time to buckle up, tame turbulence with a seat over the wing, or snuggle into the cabin’s front row.
Give Your Body an Anxiety Break
Overcoming fear of flying takes practice, so arm your body with exercises before the flight. Rehearse a deep breathing routine that starts with relaxed shoulders. Put one hand on your stomach, take in a very deep breath through your nose, and feel that abdomen expand. Exhale slowly with a calm count to 10, and repeat the technique several times.
Another body break involves imaginary melting. Start with facial muscles, follow with shoulders, arms and torso, and end with your toes. Let your fingers do the walking up and down tight neck muscles. These routines work anywhere, but they really smooth the edges off high anxiety at 30,000 feet.
Turn Your Mind Into an Escape Hatch
Aviophobia is a type of panic attack that turns your mind’s steel trap against you. Even when you simply call it fear of flying, this goblin sets off triggers that reinforce dreadful feelings. Don’t sit in that aisle seat focused on the emergency door. Load carry-on gadgets with favorite tunes and addicting games. Bury yourself in tabloid magazines, puzzle books or 50 shades of sizzling fiction. Think positive thoughts that bear repeating like “I’m as strong and courageous as every other traveler stashing stuff in the overhead bin!”
Actually, you’re even braver because you’re learning how to get over the fear of flying by spreading new wings and flinging phobias to the ground. The next time someone remarks that the sky’s the limit, just smile. There’s nothing between you and the clouds once you’ve cleared your fears for takeoff.