Holiday season is coming up! While most people are busy booking flights and planning trips, a few are bracing to face a terrifying challenge they’ll need to overcome first: their fear of flying.
Click start to play today’s Spell It, where we know some of us are ‘digging’ deep to find the courage to travel on planes.
The fear of flying – or aerophobia – is quite common, according to US-based Cleveland Clinic’s website. About one in six people have a fear that’s so significant, it prevents them from flying, while one in five regular flyers use some sort of medication to cope while on a flight.
This phobia doesn’t have to prevent you from seeing the world and enjoying your vacations, though. Here are some strategies to overcome aerophobia, according to the US-based Anxiety & Depression Association of America:
1. Find your triggers
What part of flying is particularly frightening for you? Figure out your triggers so that you can manage your fear when your anxiety level is low. Identifying what sets you off can help make it easier for you to turn it off when the time comes.
2. Step onto the plane with knowledge
Ignorance often fuels anxiety, with ‘what if?’ scenarios and catastrophic thoughts. Empower yourself by becoming more knowledgeable and learning the facts around air travel. For instance, the director general of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) released in a statement in April 2023 that there were only five fatal accidents among 32.2 million flights in 2022, making flying one of the safest activities humans can engage in.
3. Anticipate your anxiety
One of the most intense moments of fear people experience is anticipatory anxiety – your expectation of the impending fear. But the feeling isn’t an accurate predictor of how you’ll actually feel on the flight – it’s known to be far more intense than the actual experience. Realising this can help alleviate some of the stress.
4. Recognise that common sense can make no sense
Anxiety often tricks you into thinking you’re in danger when you’re perfectly safe. So, as a rule, do the opposite of what your anxiety is telling you to do. By embracing the discomfort it brings, you’ll stop reinforcing stressful thoughts and outsmart anxiety.
5. Value each flight
The key to overcoming a phobia is exposure. Every flight gives you an opportunity to make the next one easier. By retraining your brain, you’ll become less sensitised to all the triggers that set you off.