Beat your fear of flying

Everybody loves travelling and exploring new places and different cultures. However, there is a specific part that a lot of people try not to think about. I am talking about flying of course! For some travellers it’s a hassle due to high fares, flight delays and lost luggage. But for others, flying is not just a bad situation; it’s a nightmare!

Statistics from airline companies have shown that there is at least one passenger in every row of three seats on an aircraft that would definitely want to be somewhere else. As a result, these passengers always find excuses to miss out holidays or even to reject a job because it includes travelling. There is an estimated 40 percent people that are so nervous flying that they need a drink or medicine to relax and to not feel sick during their flight.

People that are afraid of flying, seem to be affected by numerous factors. For example, they might be afraid of heights or they have claustrophobia. A lot of passengers feel an unjustifiable anxiety that the aircraft might crash or it will stop working. These people are not convinced by the statistics that show how safe is to fly in comparison to driving. In addition, some passengers are worried about terrorist attacks or they feel they lose control because they don’t know who is carrying them.

Andrew Butler who used to fear flights and has to travel a lot said: “I am a product Line manager for a world wide networking manufacturer, which means I travel all the time. When I was on the aeroplane I used to be very nervous and imagine everything bad that could happen. In particular at take-off I used to close my eyes and count to 200 because I thought the first 200 seconds were the most dangerous.

“I think this was where it started. On my second flight to Zante the plane was almost down when it did a go around. A go around ‘feels’ not only very extreme but scary. Landing has always been the worst part for me.”

He also explained how he handles his fear: “However, if I ever feel a bit nervous I remind myself that every flight I have ever taken has been the same and there are 100,000 flights a day with nothing going wrong, so there is absolutely no reason to be afraid of.”

Andrew also does not miss to give some tips to people who suffer from the same fear: “I would advice to people to surround themselves with knowledge of the industry. They will realise that they are never in a safer place than on a plane.

“Talk to the crew. Tell them that you are afraid. They will understand and will help. But the most important is face the fear. Remember, the world is incredible and you owe it to yourself to see it.”

Yasmeen Shirwani is another fearful passenger who shared her experience. She confessed: “I had a really bad flight coming back from Dubai to London. Pretty bad turbulence. I sat the whole seven hours with clinched fists and sweaty palms. I didn’t eat a thing or watch anything. I actually felt physically sick. My nightmare ended up when we landed and my nerves relaxed. I felt so relieved. Since then I have stopped flying at all.” 

Every article which talks about how to beat your fear of flying suggests the passengers to use breathing exercises. Experts who look after flight anxiety and teach breathing exercises, educate passengers to use their breath to control their emotions.  Captain Tom Bunn runs a fear of flying course based on breathing exercises which he claims are highly effective (specifically 90%) in controlling fear when flying.

But how breathing exercises help to handle our fear?

According to Psychologist Today, when we breathe in, the vagus nerves causes the heart to beat faster in order to transport the new supply of oxygen in the lungs. Seconds later, having transported most of the oxygen, we breathe out. As we do, the vagus slows the heart.

Some say they find music calming. Every person relaxes with different ways. Some people prefer to breath deep to reduce nerves while others play puzzles and read books. It’s up to yourself to find out which way help you calm. Captain Tom suggests, when you get home, take a few minutes to make a note of what worked best. Reward yourself for any small steps towards overcoming your fear of flying.

Captain Tom explained why passengers are so threatened to fly and mentioned that they are not informed enough about the boarding system. He said: “Some clients are concerned about their physical safety, and need to learn more about how airliners are designed and operated to feel confident. However, flying is not absolutely safe (nothing is, really) it is safe enough to do it.

“Some are troubled more by their emotions. The most basic way we regulate ourselves emotionally is to approach what interests us and distances ourselves from what threatens us. When lifted off the ground, that regulation system is not available.

Most fearful fliers are wholly dependent on that system, and once they cannot control the situation they are in, or to escape from it, they have no means of regulating their arousal and thus their emotional state.”

The best advice is positive thinking. You can focus on the best reasons that you take this flight. You will be able to see different places and gain new experiences. Also you will have the chance to meet new people and make new friends.  These all give you a purpose to forget your fear and add a bit of excitement in your journey.

He said: “Of course, a client has no idea that this is the problem. Their thinking is more concrete. They had a bad flight. They read about crashes in the news. So they can’t fly. But, notice that everyone who can fly is exposed to the same bad flights and the same news, and have no trouble setting aside things that, though disastrous, are extremely rare.

“We have also Rapid Relief programs for clients who are concerned about how to regulate emotion, and already are confident that planes are safe enough. Complete Relief has the same emotion control material, but adds information on how flying works.”