Is your fear of flying stopping you from getting on with your life?
Are you thinking of going on holiday? Perhaps you are scouting for a deal that doesn’t involve flying to the destination. Or maybe you are a business person who needs to fly to your work destinations. But how far are you willing to go to beat your fear of flying or phobia?
In this blog, I will help you beat that fear of flying by answering the following questions.
- Why do people worry about flying at this time of the year?
- What is a fear of flying called?
- Do I have a fear or phobia of flying?
- What causes a fear of flying?
- How can I deal with the fear?
Why do people worry about flying at this time of the year?
April is a great month in the UK because it’s a month that tells us that winter is over. The crocuses come out, and there are rows of beautiful daffodils everywhere as the plants wake up from the cold. Spring is here at last.
Consequently, many people at the beginning of the year start to think about holidays and they also want to go abroad. For some people, it’s about that longing for sunshine and warmth. However, although there may still be worries about COVID restrictions and possible infections, going abroad may also mean fear for those people who are scared of flying.
But why is this? Flying is considered the safest form of travelling. It’s got a better track record than travelling in a car, going on a train, riding a bike or walking, but it still freaks some people out.
Perhaps the movies have contributed to the fear as they show films about plane crashes, but we don’t all watch them. In fact, if you have a fear of flying, you probably choose not to watch them.
Maybe previously, people have talked about turbulence or cramped conditions, and that has influenced our thoughts and feelings. For other people, being in a confined space and feeling out of control is the issue.
Nevertheless, it is a mindset problem that impacts our bodies. It is a fear response to an actual or perceived threat to our lives. Fear of flying is irrational.
What is a fear of flying called?
Flying phobias are called aviophobia or aerophobia. It’s very common, with some studies suggesting up to 25% of the population are suffering from this phobia. Other studies suggest that this figure could be as high as 40%. But many more people have a general anxiety disorder (GAD) which is a much more common anxiety problem that can get worse when flying because the person worries about everything and feels out of control when flying.
Do I have a fear or a phobia of flying?
A fear is underpinned by anxiety. Fear is a feeling of threat. It can be an intense feeling, or it can be a mild thought or feeling. But it is an emotional response that no one likes. It can lead to changes in behaviours and avoidance.
A phobia is much more intense. The fear is so bad that it will stop us from doing things in life. It can cause panic attacks, vomiting and feeling unwell. People would even refuse to fly even if they were offered a million pounds.
People with fears and phobias will worry a lot; they may not sleep well, have appetite problems and general aches and pains. Some people get panic attacks, but everyone will try to avoid flying, and many won’t fly at all.
What causes a fear of flying?
The fear of flying is a more complex fear.
It can be a result of previous external factors such as turbulence, bad weather, or worries about the mechanics of the plane.
Alternately, it could be caused by an internal worry about losing control, thoughts and feelings of being shut in or showing oneself up in public.
How to deal with the fear of flying
There are lots of things you can do to help a fear or phobia of flying. However, the option most people opt for first is avoidance. So you might make an excuse not to go. That doesn’t always work, though as you might need to fly for a business trip or go on a big family holiday. You don’t want to let people down, but that fear is very real and makes you feel bad.
You might think that having a large alcoholic drink is a good idea but actually all that does is try to mask the problem. It dulls your senses, and you can’t think. And what is worse is that the problem will be there again when you go flying again. Furthermore, drinking too much alcohol can make things worse when you get onto the plane.
The secret is to prepare well in advance before you go
- Learn to relax before your holiday. That might be easier said than done, but general stress and anxiety will make it worse.
- Read around the subject and learn how safe flying is.
- Eat a healthy diet.
- Get enough sleep.
- Try to develop a work/life balance and be kind to yourself by reducing unnecessary stress.
Prescribed medication might get you through a flight, but it doesn’t stop the cause.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
CBT is a type of counselling. It helps you to understand why your thoughts, feelings and behaviours trigger you to feel anxious. The therapists will also help you to find ways to cope and feel so much better.
Exposure to the fear can be carried out by a qualified practitioner, or today the exposure can be through virtual reality headsets. The idea is to gradually increase exposure while also introducing calming techniques to counteract the fear response.
Courses for fear of flying
Some airline companies provide talks on the fear of flying. They will explain how safe flying is and answer many questions.
Awaken the Change offices are in Bournemouth but many people also access help online via Zoom.
Finally, if you want to combat this fear of flying, it’s time to take action now.