Bitesized guide: Overcome your fear of flying

Published on: Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Bitesized guide: Overcome your fear of flying - Plane taking off in sunset - How to get an upgrade for a flight

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Four in 10 of us suffer from a fear of flying – the kind of sweat-inducing, stomach-churning anxiety that can ruin a perfectly planned holiday. Read our top tips on how to conquer your fear of flying so your next journey is trouble-free.

For those who suffer from high levels of fear about flying, it can lead to putting off holidays or visits to family members, enduring long road or train journeys, or even worse, being forced to stay at home.

Fear of flying can be triggered by a number of different factors, according to leading hypnotherapist, Tim Smale: “Worries about flying can take many different forms, from fear of enclosed spaces through to worries about security and technical stability, or fear of flying at night.”

However, through hypnosis and even self hypnosis, it is possible to train your mind to remain calm and relaxed before and during a plane journey, says Tim.

If you have a fear of flying, read Tim’s top tips to conquer your phobia:

Avoid alcohol before flying

Arriving at the airport with a hangover is not a good start to a stress-free journey. Get a good night’s sleep and drink plenty of water to ensure that you are as refreshed as possible for your flight.

Be prepared

Pack your favourite book, music or videos. An absorbing film or story will take your mind off the flight itself.

Smart seat selection

Taking occasional exercise and stretching during a flight can help your body remain comfortable and relaxed, so choose an aisle seat. Alternatively, sit by the window if you are planning to sleep so that you are not disturbed.

Plan your journey

Before you fly, look at the length of your trip and plan the number of breaks you’d like to take in order to stretch or gently exercise. These planned breaks will make a long journey seem less daunting.

Happy memories

When the mind becomes stressed or agitated, adrenaline in the body increases. You can reduce this by taking your mind back to happy or exciting memories. Try to identify these happy memories before you begin your journey.

Knowledge is power

Many fears are triggered by things we don’t understand. By understanding more about your flight – for example what causes turbulence or how planes are built and tested for safety – it is possible to rationalise your fears.

Mind over body

If you feel your levels of anxiety increasing at any point, breathe slowly and deeply whilst thinking about the happy memories you identified before your journey. Focus on your heart beat and think of it as a clock that is slowly winding down. You’ll find that as you slow your heart beat your stress levels will start to subside.

Relax

Relax your shoulders, close your eyes and focus on your breathing slowly and steadily. By closing your eyes, you avoid being affected by any anxiety that you may see other passengers experiencing.