If you’re a nervous flyer, chances are you’ve had more than one person offer you the following words of ‘comfort’ over the years, ‘There’s more chance of being in a car crash on the way to the airport than there is of something going wrong when you’re actually in the air’. Unfortunately, while that bit of trivia is true, it’s not a miraculous cure for sky-high phobias – not least because a lot of flying fears have got nothing to do with crashing at all. Here, we look at four of the most common anxieties, and give you some tips on conquering them once and for all…
Lots of people find the first few minutes of a flight the most stressful. It’s when you feel the most force from the plane – your stomach might start to feel a bit queasy, your ears might hurt, and all the time the ground is getting further and further away. If you feel yourself starting to panic, a few breathing exercises can work wonders. Concentrate on taking deep breaths in through your nose, before slowly exhaling through your mouth. Repeat a few times, and you should start to feel calmer.
When turbulence is particularly bad, it can make you feel like you’re being whipped around a rollercoaster track at full force. However bumpy things get, try to remember that planes are designed to deal with clouds, thunderstorms, air pressure changes, and all other causes of turbulence. There’s no such thing as an ‘air pocket’, and – no matter what you might have heard – a plane can’t ever just drop out of the sky. One of the best ways of clearing up all the myths surrounding turbulence, and other aspects of flying, is to sign up to a fear of flying course. One of the most popular is Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Without Fear course, which offers information on the mechanics of flying, along with psychology sessions and a short flight.
It’s estimated that about a third of nervous flyers suffer from claustrophobia. And there’s nothing like the thought of being confined to a plane for hours on end to send anxiety levels into overdrive. There are some things you can to do to help matters, though. If you sit at the back of the plane, you’ll be able to see a lot more than if you’re right at the front. Some people find it helps to sit by the aisle, too – it’s easy to get up and walk around, and you feel less hemmed in by other people.
Suffering from air sickness might sound like a minor issue, but it’s actually one of the biggest causes of flying phobias. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to treat. If you start to feel a bit queasy in the air, try closing your eyes and using the headrest to stabilise your head. Choosing a seat in the middle of the plane, where there’s less movement, can also help. And it’s a good idea to speak to your doctor or pharmacist before you jet off, to see what medication they can prescribe. Alternatively, some people swear my natural remedies such as acupressure. Try using your thumb to press down on the inside of your forearm, a couple of inches above the crease of your wrist.
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Author: Samantha Shillabeer
Published: November 9, 2011
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