Traveling in the 21st century is, for the most part, easier than ever before. Smartphones help us do everything from navigating foreign cities to making reservations on the go. But if there’s one drawback to using tech while you travel, it’s the fact that you can never escape the 24-hour news cycle, ensuring you hear about every plane crash that happens. Media coverage can skew our perception of danger, and if you’re a nervous flyer to begin with, getting the grisly details of your worst fears only makes things worse. Follow these steps before your next flight to help reduce your anxiety.
It’s easy to latch onto media coverage of plane crashes when you’re already afraid of flying. But you have to recognize that these are extreme exceptions to the rule – that’s why they’re newsworthy. Arm yourself with facts before boarding. Statistically, you have less of a chance of dying in a plane crash than you do of dying from a car accident, a lightning strike, or even a bee sting. In addition to facts about danger, you may also want to learn about how planes work. Did you know that even if an engine fails, the pilot can probably still safely land the plane, since the aircraft would essentially become a glider? If you’re still concerned, consult the JACDEC airline safety list and book your flights on airlines with the best ratings for a little extra peace of mind.
Visualize your flight
As your departure approaches, take time to imagine your flight going smoothly, instead of dwelling on your anxieties. Get yourself in a relaxing environment, close your eyes, and picture each step of the process from take-off to landing. Play director with your imagination and pause, rewind, or fast forward through scenarios as you like. Putting yourself in control and thinking positive thoughts may help dispel some of your worries.
Identify your triggers
When you do have anxious thoughts about flying, take a moment to dig deeper into those feelings. Where did they come from? Why did you experience anxiety at that particular moment? The better you become at identifying your triggers, the closer you’ll get to being able to control your fears. Some people may find that their fear of flying is actually related to another type of panic attack or claustrophobia.
Fly with a friend
Traveling with a companion is one of the best things you can do for yourself as you work through your fear of flying. Make sure anyone you travel with knows your triggers, so they can help you through any difficult moments of the flight. Try to choose travel partners who have a calming influence, rather than people you find more stressful. If you’re flying alone, strike up a conversation with your seat mate and try making a new friend who can help with your anxiety.
Take baby steps
If your dream vacation is in India and you live in the U.S., diving straight into a long international flight probably isn’t the best way to tackle your fear of flying. Instead, plan shorter trips. Work your way up from brief domestic jaunts to gradually longer flights. On each flight you take, really focus on the sights and sounds around you. Experience what flying is actually like. The more you fly, the easier it will get.