Anyone that knows me, knows how much of a nervous flyer I am. I’ve been on over 20 flights in the past three years and I still have to work hard in order to fight the fear and step onto an aeroplane. There have been times where I’ve contemplated not going on holiday because of it, or staying longer at a destination rather than going home. I’ve even contacted lawyers like Gillin, Jacobson, Ellis, Larsen & Lucey to see where I’d stand legally in the instance of a plane crash, just in case! Over the past 12 months I’ve been working really hard to combat this fear and get to the bottom of why I’m such a nervous flyer. I’m still not there – I can’t quite figure out why I’m so nervous, but I guess that’s what an irrational fear is… it’s irrational. However, I have figured out ways to stay calm during flight and so I wanted to compile a list of tips for anyone else that suffers from this horrible phobia.
A little background about my fear of flying first! On the day of our flight I can’t eat because I’m so nervous I end up throwing it all back up again. The only thing I can stomach is alcohol which sounds ridiculous. I’m not a big drinker, in fact the only time I actually drink is before or during a flight! It settles my nerves. If I haven’t had a drink beforehand then I really struggle to get on the plane. Whilst in the air, my hands are sweaty and shaky, my breathing is fast and I have an overwhelming feeling of wanting to get out of the plane. The take off is horrible for me – I have to sit back in my chair, look out the window and get Andrew to distract Daisy so she can’t see how nervous I am. I can’t even explain the feeling of fear I get whilst flying, but it’s always overridden by my enthusiasm for seeing the world. I hope these tips help at least one person get on that plane!
I remember someone telling me to focus on my breathing and I felt like laughing at them. How can I focus on my breathing? How is that even going to help? But it really really did help. When your body is in the depths of it’s phobia, it’s so hard to catch your breath and really focus on the reality of a situation. But when you manage to catch it and slow it down, you automatically feel as though you can control your fear better. As the plane starts to make it’s way to the runway and prepares itself for departure, I pull in my breathing. I look out the window and take deep breaths in and out. By this point I don’t care if I look silly – I just know that the first step is to calm down my breath.
So, I’m quite lucky that Andrew is a bit of a know it all when it comes to anything to do with engineering. If he wasn’t then I know a huge step for overcoming this fear would be to research. Know the facts and how safe airplanes really are. Every time you have a ‘what if’ moment, you can then over write that thought with the fact. It’s hard to stay rational when in the depths of feeling as though you’re destined to crash, but when you really look at the facts, it can calm you and ease you into a more pleasurable flight experience.
This is a big one for me! I tend to sit next to the window and apart from saying hello as we enter the plane and thank you as we exit, I hardly say a single word to them. But what I do is look to them for reassurance – whenever I’m feeling a little on edge or start panicking again, I check out the look on their faces as they hand out snacks and see just how relaxed they are! I know it’s their job to look relaxed but that’s the point – this is their job. They do it every day. They don’t feel nervous!
You’re probably sat at an airport reading this (like I do before I get on a flight!) and thinking ‘what an absolute crap tip’. But something I’ve started to do recently is look at flying in a different light. I thought about our flight to Marrakech (4 hours) and decided to look at it in a way that is exciting. I get to sit down for 4 hours and do pretty much nothing. I can eat, drink, read, listen to music, write etc. Try not to think of exactly where you are – close the window blind and just really enjoy your free time!
Sit at the front
The back is known for being more bumpy and a little worse during turbulence so if you’re not a fan then definitely secure some seats at the front. That being said, I feel happier and more comfortable at the back of the plane. I really couldn’t tell you why, but 90% of the time we pick to sit at the back! Also consider what makes you feel more comfortable – a window seat or isle seat. I have to sit near the window because the one time I didn’t, I panicked ten fold! It may be different for you, so try each one out!
If all else fails..
If all else fails then you have a few other options – Either don’t fly, take a flying course or learn to fly yourself. Perhaps go to the doctors and ask for some calming pills or purchase some over the counter. you could even have therapy if you want to go that far – if not then why not consider a fear of flying course. I have heard these are amazing and I really need to look into testing one out to see if I can kick this fear completely in the butt!