As with any kind fear and phobia, the fear of flying rises up from your mind and the thoughts that are produced within it. What if the plane crashes? What if someone has a bomb on board? What if someone opens the door? What if, what if, what if… Not many people like flying, me included. Whenever there is turbulence during a flight I often feel the urge to jump up out of my seat, rush to the cockpit and shout “what the heck are you guys doing in here?!” and take control of the plane myself. I am not so sure that would end up very well, but it stems from the feeling of having no control over something that I dislike. Everyone has their reasons for being scared of flying. For some it’s the same reason as I have, for others it’s the height, the turbulence, the feeling of not being able to get out… there are many reasons, but they all come down to the same thing – from imagining bad scenarios in your head. I want to share in this article some tips and tricks, but also some deeper facts and insights about airplanes to help ease your mind and make your next flight much more smooth and relaxed. So put your seatbelt on, and get ready for takeoff!
1. Safest Transportation in the World
If you are worried that your airplane will crash, good luck. Seriously. The chance of your plane going down is so minute it’s a one in 11 million chance. The most dangerous part of your journey is the actual drive from your house to the airport. Traveling by car is a 100 times more deadly than flying. Yet despite this fact, we still fear this incredibly slim chance of something going wrong, and that is simply down to one reason – the news. When an airplane does crash you hear/read about it everywhere. The news creates such an unnecessarily fear about this, it makes it seem that every plane in the whole world is falling out of the sky. What we don’t hear is that every day more than 100,000 flights globally land smoothly, safe and sound.
So next time something like this does make the news, don’t let it get inside your head. Instead keep your head clear and simply remember all the facts and reports of just how safe flying is. You have a bigger chance – 1 in 3 million – of dying from food poison than you do of having a plane crash. Think of that next time you are sitting in your airplane. Don’t bother stressing too much that something will go wrong with the plane, instead, focus more on what you eat.
2. Avoid Caffeine
Do yourself a favor if you have a deep fear of flying and avoid caffeine products 72 hours before your flight. Caffeine can create a hyper state of mind and will only exacerbate your anxiety.
3.Familiarize Yourself with the Crew and Aircraft
On long flights especially, I always go and venture around the aircraft, exploring and making contact with almost every crew member. One reason is simply because I really enjoy exploring and talking to other people – it’s fun. But also, by doing this, by familiarizing yourself with the aircraft, your surroundings, and getting to know some of the crew members on board you will come to feel more confident and trusting about your environment. Also don’t be afraid to talk to a flight attendant and tell them you have a fear of flying and ask if they can give you any tips or tricks. Even if they can’t give you any advice over and above what we are talking about here, it’s a very good opening line to start a conversation.
4.Keep Yourself Busy and Zone Out
Stay busy and get your mind off the fact that you are flying! Watch a movie, read a book, listen to an audio book or podcast, dig into that work you have to finish, or simply just try to sleep – whatever works best for you to help you zone out. For me it’s burying my head in my work. I write a couple of articles, edit some photos, think of new ideas, work on projects – totally forgetting I am sitting in a flying chair miles up in the air. Know what can keep you hooked and busy and be sure to have it with you! Also listening to relaxing music or white noise using an app such as Noisli when you are trying to sleep or work is a very good way to achieving a peaceful frame of mind.
The number one concern for many is turbulence. It feels uncomfortable, you don’t know what the heck is happening, everything is shaky, your coffee is flying around, and it can occur completely out of nowhere – quite crazily at times. I have shed many drops of sweat on several flights I can tell you. It’s without a doubt one of the least pleasant parts of flying and while it feels dangerous, it is actually absolutely nothing to be worried about. There is not one example in recent decades of an airplane crashing because of turbulence. It’s simply not knowing what turbulence is and how well planes are made to withstand it, that makes many people stressed out about it. Turbulence occurs when two masses of air from different directions or speeds meet. It’s kind of like a boat in the ocean, it will cause the plane to rise, fall and sway a little bit. Because the plane is traveling so fast however, these small movements feel so much larger than they actually are. But there is absolutely no need to worry about it; planes are engineered to take a remarkable amount of punishment that not even the pilot with the most number of miles under his belt while ever experience. For a plane, turbulence is no more than small bumps on the road. If you really do dislike those bumps, the best place to get the smoothest ride is to sit by the wings, as that’s where the center of lift and gravity of a plane is.
6.The Crazy Guy Trying to Open the Door During the Flight
Wish him good luck. You cannot – repeat, cannot – open the door in flight. It’s physically impossible to do so due to the difference of air pressure inside versus outside. So there’s no need to stress about that one anymore.
So the engine failed huh? Not all is lost, by far. First of all airplanes have multiple engines and can fly safely with just one. Also, just like your car engine, pilots are often able to re-start the engines. Secondly, planes can glide very long distances! Each and every pilot is trained to glide as far as possible. And thirdly, planes are well maintained and checked regularly – it’s an extremely rare scenario for an engine to fail, never mind every single engine on a plane.
8.Pretend you are on a Bus
Sorry what? Pretend that you are on a bus? Yes, it sounds too simple to work, but believe me it does. Let your imagination go to work, it can be quite powerful. Once the plane is in the air it honestly does not feel much different than a bus ride, and if turbulence occurs, just pretend you’re driving on a bumpy road for a short while.
Mediation has scientifically been shown to lower anxiety and stress levels. An incredible app I highly recommend, not just for flying, is called HeadSpace. It offers guided meditation sessions and has a couple of ones specifically on the fear of flying. If for whatever reason you do not have your phone with you or you forgot to download the sessions, closing your eyes, (or having them open and focused on one thing), while simply concentrating on your breathing, calmly taking deep breaths in and out has a similar kind of effect on the brain, and takes anxiety and stress away.
Any good tips or tricks you use when you are flying?
Let us know in the comment section below!
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