You board the plane. Find your seat (aisle, YES!) and manage to cram your carry-on in the last space of the overhead bin. As you buckle your seatbelt and get settled in for your flight, you notice the person next to you acting quite unusual. With clenched fists, sweating and wide-eyed, this person is in panic mode before the plane even takes off. Have you seen this person? Unfortunately, this is not a rare occurrence. About one in six adults are afraid of flying.
Whether its claustrophobia, crowds or the image reel of plane crashes the media bombards us with, fearful fliers’ travel experiences are laced with stress and anxiety. The last thing one wants to begin their incentive trip is to endure a full-blown panic attack or forego a possible adventure of a lifetime due to flying woes. Statistics say that the odds of you being involved in an air accident are 1 in 11 million, while auto accidents are 1 in 5,000. That means that the most dangerous moment of your travels is the drive to the airport. Aircrafts are built and designed to withstand even the most severe and extreme levels of turbulence. Storms can definitely damage an aircraft, but flights are diverted or canceled often to avoid just that.
The below tips will make even the most fearful of fliers calm, cool and collected when that fasten seatbelt sign lights up.
- Pretend you’re in a car. Visualize the turbulence like they are bumps in the road. Don’t startle your neighbor with squeals or intense clutching of the shared armrest, but instead let your body move with the movements of the aircraft.
- Keep your mind distracted. Watch a movie, read a book, journal, engage in Sudoku or whatever you have to do to keep your mind from dwelling on everything negative that could go wrong.
- Listen to music with calming effects. Pop your headphones in and indulge in the peaceful tunes of your choice. The music will not only distract from the noises of the aircraft but also calm your fearful mind. For the ultimate soothing harmonies and for a truly tranquil experience, I suggest Bon Iver or Lana del Ray.
- Breathe. Steady and regulated breaths will help your body and mind remain in one piece. If all else fails, the sick bag stowed in your seatback pocket can be used as an anti-hyperventilating tool.
- Melatonin. The best way to make a flight go by faster is sleep and with this non-addictive sleep aid. You can relax and fall asleep naturally, waking to the wheels safely on the ground.
While I am sure there are countless tricks used to ease nervous fliers, just remember that the panic will subside and you will be well on your way to extraordinary places, without boarding the plane with a parachute strapped to your back.