Overcoming Flight Anxiety

Imagine this: You’re at the airport, excited about your upcoming trip, but as the boarding announcement echoes through the terminal, your excitement gives way to a familiar knot of dread in your stomach. If this scenario sounds all too familiar, you’re not alone. Today, we’re going to explore a topic that affects many of us: flight anxiety. Let’s dive into what flight anxiety is, why it happens, and most importantly, how you can conquer it.

What is Flight Anxiety?

Flight anxiety, also known as aviophobia or aerophobia, is a fear or apprehension about flying. Common symptoms include:

  • Sweating
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Shallow breathing or hyperventilation
  • Nausea or stomach discomfort
  • Feelings of dread or panic
  • Muscle tension

Flight anxiety can vary in severity, ranging from mild nervousness to debilitating panic attacks that prevent individuals from boarding planes altogether. Not only does it cause physical and psychological symptoms, it can really put a damper on your summer vacation plans. 

Cause for Flight Anxiety:

There are several different triggers for flight anxiety that can lead to some of the symptoms mentioned above. Some of these triggers include:

  • Fear of Heights: Being in a plane triggers fear of heights (acrophobia) for some individuals.
  • Lack of Control: Feeling helpless in a situation where you’re not in control of the aircraft. 
  • Turbulence: Bumpy flights can intensify anxiety, although turbulence is a normal part of flying – it sure doesn’t feel like a normal experience.
  • Previous Negative Experience: A past bad flight experience can leave a lasting impression.
  • Media Influence: Negative portrayals of air travel in movies or news can exacerbate fears. (Do not watch tiktoks on plane crash statistics before you board a plane.) 

Here is the good news, flying has statistically been proven as being very safe. A study done by Joel Thomas (2022) (https://www.stratosjets.com/blog/fear-of-flying-statistics-trends-facts/) shared flight data from 2022 and this is what he discovered:

  • There was a 1 in 3.37 billion chance of dying in a commercial airline plane crash between 2012-2016
  • 98.6% of crashes do not result in a fatality.
  • Commercial plane incidents cause death only once in 20 million flights. 

Basically put, you are more at risk getting into an accident on your way to the airport than flying in an airplane.  

What do we do with Flight Anxiety?

Here are some effective strategies:

  • Education: Learn about how planes work and how safe air travel actually is. Understanding the mechanics can demystify your fears.
  • Relaxation Techniques: Practice deep breathing, meditation, or visualization exercises to calm your mind and body. (hold an ice cube in your hand for a couple seconds, sit by the window seat so you can have a view of what’s going on, lift your legs during turbulence to reduce the effects)
  • Gradual Exposure: Start with short flights or simulator experiences to desensitize yourself to flying.
  • Professional Help: Consider cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or counseling from a therapist specializing in anxiety disorders.
  • Medication: Consult your doctor about anti-anxiety medications that can help manage symptoms during flights.

Final Thoughts

Remember, flight anxiety is a common challenge that many people face. It’s okay to feel nervous, but don’t let fear hold you back from exploring the world. By understanding your fears and implementing coping strategies, you can reclaim the joy of air travel.

If you would like assistance with your anxiety, please reach out. You can give us a call at 832-352-1600 or contact us through our website HERE.

Lu-Cheree De Jager, LPC

Lu-Cheree De Jager, LPC

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