Stepping onto a flight – palms sweaty, heart racing – and thinking about the wheel falling off or imagining the door opening at 30,000ft is not going to help. It may sound blindingly obvious, but you need to control your mind so you don’t visualise the worst case scenario.
Instead, think about the things you do want to happen – relaxing in your chair as you read your favourite travel mag (ahem, Wanderlust), or arriving at your chosen destination ready to enjoy your trip are perfect examples.
Flying is incredibly safe – that's a fact. While things may go wrong and we hear stories of pilots falling asleep, running out of fuel or ‘near-misses’ with other planes – these are only a miniscule amount of flights in the grand scheme of things. Passengers on an aeroplane have a 1 in 11,000,000 chance of dying in a crash. To put this into perspective, there is more chance of dying from heatstroke (1 in 950,000) or being struck by lightning (1 in 2,320,000).
There are also incredibly intricate safety measures in place to keep passengers away from harm. For example, usually seven computers are installed on the plane so if there's a problem with one there are plenty of back-up options. Planes have multiple engines and even if you're unlucky enough to be on a flight where all fail at once, generators keep the computers going and an aeroplane can safely glide for around 100 miles – plenty of time to find a safe emergency landing spot.
Keep these facts in mind when you fly and you’ll feel much calmer in the air.
When we wake in the night and hear a bang, we automatically think someone has broken into the house and is about to burgle us. Sound about right? It's the same on an aeroplane: you hear a crunch and a clonk and think.... The wing’s about to fall off!
Your mind automatically fills in the gaps in your knowledge and, usually, it fills in the gaps with negative, unhelpful images and assumptions.
To help tackle this, learn what the noises are before you fly, as well as the processes the plane has to go through before take-off, during the flight and when you come into landing. From the air conditioning to the wing movements, knowing what each noise means – and that it's completely normal – will help you stay relaxed.
Often, people who are scared of flying drink a pint, sip a G&T or go all out and down a Bloody Mary before take-off. Drinking before or during a flight can actually make things worse. Inside the aeroplane, the air is at a lower pressure, leading you to lose moisture from your lungs. Combining the two can leave you very dehydrated – making you feel further on edge, anxious and headachy. Avoid both alcohol and caffeinated drinks and sip on water throughout your flight to help you relax.
I’ve saved the most bizarre tip for last. If you’ve applied all the other advice and are still panicking, you need to start tapping. Focus on your fear and tap your middle finger and index finger up to ten times on each of the pressure points around your body:
The success of this process freaked me out slightly! Whether it’s the weight of the tapping against these pressure points or the distraction of your mind from your fear – the scared feelings and panic simply melt away. Keep repeating the tapping and after a few circuits you’ll see what I mean…
Daisy Cropper and her travelling companion learned how to overcome anxiety and fear of flying on easyJet’s Fearless Flying course. Held across the UK, easyJet’s course aims to remove misconceptions about flying and help you control your fear – so you can enjoy your trips! Upcoming courses include London Stansted and Glasgow in November 2013. Further dates will be announced in spring 2014. Find out more here.
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