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How to overcome the fear of flying, in 5 easy steps

How to overcome the fear of flying, in 5 easy steps

April 22, 2024

Many people experience fear of flying , a phenomenon that appears in situations in which you have to get on an airplane, even if it is to undertake a very short trip. Although this means of transport is one of the safest, the irrational fear of this context makes them suffer for reasons that are difficult to explain in detail.

In this article we will focus on Several tips on how to overcome the fear of flying , taking into account that this is a process that requires some time and effort, and that in some cases that fear will not disappear altogether. But first, let's clarify some concepts.

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Is it always a type of aircraft phobia?

Keep in mind that the fear of flying is not exactly the same as the phobia of flying, or aerophobia . The first concept is broader, since phobias are mental disorders (specifically, anxiety disorders) and there are several diagnostic criteria to determine if they are present in a person.

In particular, the idea that in order to speak of flight phobia, the fear must be so intense and incapacitating that it significantly harms the person's life location; for example, causing him to actively avoid taking airplanes even having the need to take one of these vehicles.

Although the available data are not very accurate, it is estimated that about 13% of the population in Western societies have this condition, and about 5% suffer a fear of flying so intense that it can be considered aerophobia.

Thus, fear of flying is a phenomenon that can occur at different levels of severity, and aerophobia occupies its most intense end. However, this difference between fear of flying "light" and aerophobia, in which the person can get totally out of control and move to try to leave the plane urgently, can be understood as something qualitative, not just quantitative. In particular, there are those who will not be able to overcome this fear of air travel unless you go to a mental health professional such as a psychologist or psychiatrist .

What we will see below is a series of tips that can help people whose fear of flying is not extreme and who will therefore be able to effectively engage in measures to overcome this fear on their own, although resorting to psychological help It will always be helpful and facilitate the process.

  • Related article: "Aerophobia: when the fear of flying is pathological"

How to overcome the fear of flying

Follow these steps to maximize your chances of mitigating or making the fear of flying disappear.

1. Learn about the basics of what happens during the flight

Have basic knowledge about how an airplane works and how he does it to fly serves two fundamental purposes that help overcome the kind of fear we are talking about.

On the one hand, it makes the belief that the plane can fall at any time, reinforced by an intuitive knowledge about how physics works (since our early childhood we learn that it is normal for objects that are not supported by something to fall to the ground ) is compensated by somewhat more reasoned beliefs about the safety of these vehicles.

On the other hand, it helps to avoid surprises. Even if we think we know more or less how an airplane works, if we detect something that might mean that an accident is going to happen, such as turbulence caused by turbulence, we can discard that belief in the safety of the vehicle considering that we are in a case exceptional in which there is a very specific danger. In this way, if we know that on a flight it is normal for quite strong shaking to occur, or that it is common to hear strange sounds produced by the internal machinery of the plane, it is more difficult for this to happen to us.

However, this step is not enough by itself to eliminate the fear of flying, since as an emotional phenomenon, cognitive processes based on rational arguments have a very limited power compared to the influence that fear has. Ultimately, this emotion makes sense because it has allowed us to increase our chances of survival, making us more likely to flee just in case to stop to think if there really is or not reason to be cautious. Because, it is necessary to intervene on emotions .

2. Prepare self-instructions

The most possible thing is that in order to overcome the fear of flying you will be touched by uncomfortable, even unpleasant moments. After all, you must expose yourself to the source of that fear to make its influence on you decrease. Therefore, it is important to prepare some self-instructions: a detailed description of how you should manage your care when you feel that fear lurks.

For example, when you feel turbulence you can mentally repeat "roller coaster" in sets of three, and then perform a few seconds of breathing techniques, and then go back to repeating the concept. In this way you will be focusing your attention on a series of simple steps that will help you not to become obsessed with fears.

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3. Take an object in which to discharge the tension

Surely you are going to experience anxiety, so it is good to channel its physiological effects into a specific object, which will allow you to see that this facet of the symptoms is controlled and it will not make you lose control. For example, squeezing a rubber ball can work.

4. Use visualization methods in the imagination

It is good that, before entering the plane, close your eyes and imagine what will happen to fly inside. The objective is to expose oneself to a situation similar to that of the real flight (discarding the possibility of catastrophes, adjusting to what by statistics occurs: flights without incidents), have the opportunity to become familiar with this kind of environment in a controlled environment.

5. If you can, enter the plane finding yourself in good condition

It is necessary to do everything possible to get on the plane being the best possible, which implies having slept well the night before, and having eaten well. If not, intrusive thoughts will be more likely to appear related to worries, since you will feel more vulnerable than usual.

Bibliographic references:

  • Curtis, G.C., Magee, W.J., Eaton, W.W., Wittchen, H.U. & Kessler, R.C. (1998). Specific fears an phobias: Epidemiology and classification. British Journal of Psychiatry, 173, 212-217.

End your fear of flying forever FOREVER | MEL ROBBINS (April 2024).

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