Fear of flying isn’t easy to overcome. When you’re 35,000 feet above the ground, it can feel like you’ve lost control over everything. Even the marvelous sight of the clouds outside your window can’t calm you down. You can only hope and pray that the captain keeps you safe.
But if you dream of traveling the world, or your job involves going overseas, you have to overcome your fear of flying eventually. In fact, even if you’ve never taken a flight before, it’s essential to realize that flying is far safer than driving. An air turbulence may sound dreadful or feel alarming, but it’s nothing but harmless wind currents. Planes are sturdy enough to handle it.
If you’ve already ridden a plane for a quick flight, taking more short-distance flights can help ease your perturbation about flying. But that may not be an option, given that air travel is currently limited. If your next scheduled flight is a long one, you can only prepare for it at home, and on the day of your departure. That can be difficult, especially if it will be your first long flight.
That said, here are the ways to overcome your anxiety for your first long flight:
1. Educate Yourself About Planes
While you still have months or weeks left before your flight, research facts about planes. Try to learn the basics of how airplanes work. Knowing that a plane can still stay in the air with only one working engine may help dampen your fears about your aircraft malfunctioning mid-flight.
Psychologists recommend educating yourself about planes because it will help you understand how safe flying is. You may have no control over the aircraft’s speed and height, but at least, you’re certain that the captain is doing the right thing. Once the Fasten Seatbelt lights turn off, that’s your additional assurance that you’re completely safe.
Researching about planes also allows you to demistify air turbulence. As pointed out above, those wind currents aren’t dangerous. They may cause the plane’s wings to bob and up down, but that’s because they’re exactly meant to do that. The wings act like shock absorbers so that you wouldn’t feel the effects of air turbulence as much.
2. Research About In-flight Air Circulation For Your COVID-19 Concerns
Since plane cabins are cramped, it’s only natural to worry about catching viruses. If you’re also a germophobe, the thought of sitting in a plane for hours, with nothing but cabin air to breathe in, can really rattle you. But in truth, fresh air is continually pumped into a plane. The cabin air undergoes refreshment every three minutes. In addition, the recycled air passes through HEPA filters, which bars 99.9% of impurities, including bacteria and viruses. So while the cabin isn’t the best place for social distancing, its air is surely clean. Just put your mask on to avoid spreading droplets.
3. Pick a Comfortable Seat
Most airline companies allow you to choose your seat. The aisle seat is ideal for anxious passengers because it allows them to move easily when they need to go to the lavatory, and to feel less boxed in. In any case, ensure that the seat of your choice will make you comfortable. If you’re claustrophobic, or afraid of heights, try to steer clear of the window seat. Upgrade to business class if you can afford to; that’ll give considerably more comfort.
4. Relax in the Airport
The airport itself can feel ominous if you have a long flight waiting. Its crowd and busy surroundings don’t help either. You’re lucky if you’re coming from an airport like Singapore, Changi’s exquisite dining, world-class facilities, and wellness amenities will allow you to relax even in such a busy airport. There, you can easily forget that you’re about to endure a long flight.
Some airports also have a fitness facility, so try to squeeze in a workout if you’ve got time. Exercising will allow your blood to get pumping, which helps increase your comfort in the long flight.
5. Stock Up on In-flight Entertainment and Essentials
Prepare your earplugs, books, neck pillows, compression leggings or socks, and other things you’ll find useful for your flight. If you need some essential oils to help you fall asleep, bring those, too. In-flight essentials and entertainment won’t just add comfort to your journey, but will also let you enjoy it.
If you doubt that these strategies will reduce your anxiety, consider seeing a therapist. Fear that’s paralyzing shouldn’t be downplayed. Cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure and response prevention, or even hypnosis can help you overcome your fear. Anti-anxiety medication may be necessary too. If you feel like the phobia is becoming bigger than you, confront it anyway, because all this time, you’ve always been larger than your fears.