The Federal Aviation Administration helps to handle over 16 million flights every single year. That’s a lot of planes and a lot of passengers!Internationally or domestically, many of us get nervous on flights.Conquer your flight anxiety and relax before next trip with these 15 tips.
A lot of the world’s international travel is done by flight. It’s quick, it’s convenient, and it’s relatively inexpensive considering the fact that you’re being shuttled through the sky from one country to another, potentially over large empty spaces of water, or over other countries entirely.
If you suffer from flight anxiety, though, you might be missing out.
Everyone should have the opportunity to travel, but flight anxiety can completely impede that ability. It might also impede work opportunities, social gatherings, and important family events like weddings, funerals, graduations, or new births.
If you’re looking for ways to help ease your anxiety about flying, or even try to face your aviophobia, read on for 15 tips for overcoming flight anxiety.
How Common is Flight Anxiety?
If you want to live a life free of flight anxiety, you’re not alone. Roughly 25% of Americans suffer some form of flight anxiety, even if it isn’t a full-fledged phobia. Just over 6% suffer from aviophobia itself.
Aviophobia is the explicit fear of flying, so a significantly more intense form of flight anxiety. Both are problematic and can cause disruption in the lives of people dealing with them.
While serious phobias can take years to overcome (if they can be overcome at all), there are ways to manage your fear and anxiety in order to take necessary flights. Missing out on flying is unnecessary.
How Can I Overcome My Flight Anxiety?
There are plenty of tactics that you can use to help alleviate your anxiety around flying. Not every technique is going to work for every person, but through a combination of different methods, you should find something that works for you, at least for the duration of your flights.
1. Exercise Before the Flight
Plenty of people use exercise as a coping mechanism for dealing with anxiety. Not only does exercise help to get rid of all of that pesky nervous energy, but it also releases endorphins.
Endorphins have been proven to help alleviate anxiety and exercise is great for getting your mind off of any troubling tasks. Regular exercise isn’t only great for the body, it’s great for the brain.
Even just a good, long walk can be enough to stave off the worst of your anxiety if all you have available to you is the long halls of the airport. An airport gym is even better.
2. Don’t Have a Drink
This might sound counterintuitive, but you actually want to skip the alcohol before your flight if you’re dealing with serious flight anxiety.
While it might make sense to take the edge off, drinking can actually disrupt your sleep schedule, making those long overnight flights feel even longer.
If it’s a brief flight, a quick glass of wine won’t hurt you, but if you have a long way to go, stick to virgin beverages.
3. Skip the Caffeine
Early morning or late night flights can feel miserable and sometimes all you want is a cup of tea or coffee to help get through the day.
If you suffer from anxiety, though, the caffeine is actually going to exacerbate the problem. Skip the Starbucks and if you’re going to get a tea, go for something herbal and noncaffeinated.
4. Name the Phobia
This might sound silly but sometimes you really need to hone in on what exactly is giving you the anxiety to help you overcome it.
Is it the entire process of flying? Unlikely. Try to make your fear specific so it’s a little bit smaller and easier to digest.
5. Bring Distractions
Plane rides can be incredibly boring so a distraction or two can be a lifesaver even without anxiety.
Do you have any handheld gaming consoles that you can bring with you? What about books? Flights are also a great time to try to get work done, like writing or drawing.
Distracting yourself from your environment won’t leave room for the flight anxiety.
6. Talk to Someone About It
Are you flying with a friend or family member? Don’t be shy about letting them know that you feel a little bit anxious about going onto your flight.
Flight anxiety is completely normal, and most people will understand you even if they don’t experience it personally.
If you’re flying alone, consider telling a flight attendant. They’re used to people being anxious on flights and they might be willing to check in on you a little more often if that would help calm you down, or even let you talk to the pilot for a moment.
7. Try CBD
CBD has been shown to help alleviate anxiety in many people who use it, and you might be the next.
There are plenty of different ways to consume CBD, so it should be easy to find one that’s right for you. It’s accessible online and doesn’t require a prescription from a doctor, so last-minute flights should be no worry.
99% pure CBD isolate might be what you’re looking for to help your flight anxiety. And don’t worry, you can legally travel with CBD.
8. Seek Out a Therapist
Seeking out professional help is totally reasonable if your anxiety or phobia is getting in the way of you living your fullest life. While the ability to fly might not be super important to you all the time, sometimes it’s almost necessary in order to not miss out on key life events.
A therapist can help you by assessing your specific situation and developing a care plan that focuses on your anxiety.
Therapy is a long-term healing method, it won’t just fix the problem for the moment. If your anxiety seriously impedes your life, this might be the best possible option for you.
9. Use Breathing Techniques
Sometimes people with anxiety will study breathing exercises as a coping mechanism for difficult situations.
You can do most breathing exercises anywhere, and while you might draw a little bit of attention to yourself, most people understand the anxiety inherent with flight.
Good breathing exercises help to adjust the parasympathetic nervous system, which allows you to relax and calm down.
10. Keep Your Destination in Mind
Alright, so maybe the flight is scary. Do you know what probably isn’t scary? The place that you’re going (unless it is, in which case, use it as a distraction).
Keep your destination in mind while you’re nervous on your flight. In a few hours, you’ll be on a beach, or waiting for your sister’s graduation across the country, or getting ready to be a friend’s bridesmaid in Australia.
These are all exciting things, and keeping them in mind can help soothe you while you endure the flight.
11. Plan for Turbulence
Turbulence can be scary for anyone, even seasoned travelers. If you’re anxious on flights, it’s even worse.
You can plan ahead by looking at turbulence forecasts. They might not be completely accurate, but they’ll give you an idea of what to look out for. Turbulence is completely normal, but knowing what was already anticipated can help calm the anxious brain.
12. Study Statistics
How dangerous is flying really?
It’s actually more dangerous to drive your car than it is to fly; did you know that? If you’re worried about flying, check out a few statistics on airline travel and the safety that goes with it. Realizing that you’re safer than you think might help soothe some of that anxiety.
Not all fear is rational, but this will help you talk yourself through your anxieties.
13. Listen to the Safety Instructions
Every flight begins with the flight attendants showing safety instructions to all of the passengers. While they often go ignored, if you’re anxious about your flight, you might want to pay attention.
You might find it comforting to know that there are safety measures in place for your flight, and exactly where those safety measures are located.
If you’re able to, sleeping through your flight is one of the best ways to cope with it. Early morning or late night flights are perfect for this.
There’s nothing to do on a flight and you’re not missing much way up in the sky. Take a nap and hope that the whole thing is over by the time you wake up.
15. Seek Medication
If you really can’t get past your flight anxiety, see a doctor for anxiety-relieving medications.
Doctors are familiar with flight anxiety and can prescribe anti-anxiety medications for anxious fliers.
These medications can be addictive, and they have side-effects. That said, they will help with your anxiety during the flight.
Are You Ready for Your Next Flight?
Flight anxiety can be difficult, but it is manageable. With one or a combination of these methods, you should be able to get through your flight with relative ease.
There’s no shame in seeking out medical help if you’re dealing with serious anxiety. Flight anxiety is incredibly normal, and you will get through it.
For more posts like this on your favorite travel-related topics, check out the rest of the blog!