Fear of flying
Can you really cure a fear of flying?
At this time of the year, we all look forward to that lovely, summer holiday; a time to relax with our families or friends, a chance to unwind from the busy lives we lead and, for those of us battling with the unpredictable UK climate, a chance to get some well-deserved sunshine. However, many people struggle with the reality of this as they have an acute fear of flying. This fear may sound harmless, but it can be hugely limiting both in terms of personal relationships and professional development too. Many corporate jobs these days have international travel at the heart of the role.
If this sounds like you or a loved one, then you should take solace in the fact that one in 10 people suffer from a fear of flying, and this number is increasing year upon year. You’re certainly not alone, and the good news is that there are things you can do to get rid of your fears for good.
In this article, I will be sharing a few self-help methods that you can do to alleviate a fear of flying, and what you can achieve by seeking professional help for your phobia.
What is the fear of flying?
A fear of flying is a natural reaction to a situation we perceive as dangerous. Turbulence and recent air disasters have been blamed for increasing the fear of flying in many passengers, however, the facts are that flying is still the safest form of transport.
Statistics from airline association the IATA verify this as 4,093 million people flew worldwide in 2017, and, according to a BBC report, 2017 was the safest year for flying.
In fact, car accidents have a far higher injury and death rate than flying. A quote from reporter Katia Moskvitchin in her article How to beat our fear of flying states ‘car travel is about 100 times deadlier than flying’ (BBC, November 2016).
So why do we still fear flying?
Many people fear the experience of flying because they are terrified of crashing; others don’t like being in confined spaces; some fear heights and the idea of seeing the world from above is too much for them to cope with.
How does fear develop?
While many of us know that the fear is irrational, it can develop due to the experiences we have, i.e. turbulence during a flight, negative experiences from a flight or even just hearing/reading about it from another source or watching tv/films.
Some people are afraid of flying due to other perceived anxieties such as a loss of control or being in an enclosed space.
What are the symptoms of a fear of flying?
There are many symptoms of a fear of flying, and how it can affect a person depends upon the individual. This fear, if left unchecked, can cause people great anxiety and discomfort to the point that they may experience:
- extreme sickness
- an increase in heart rate and blood pressure
- sweaty palms, forehead or underarms
- erratic breathing
Panic attacks are a common symptom. None of these are good for those facing flying, and some people may not sleep for days before a flight simply worrying about the journey.
Some celebrities who suffer from a fear of flying include Miley Cyrus, Ben Affleck, and Megan Fox. These artists all must work to conquer their fear to be able to travel worldwide.
If these symptoms are left unchecked or untreated, then the fear can worsen to the point that people will change their lifestyles to avoid going onto a plane. David Bowie was a prime example of this – choosing to travel by boats and trains after a stormy flight from Cyprus in the early 70s.
How can we cope with our fear of flying?
There are lots of tips on the internet to help control the fear, such as distraction techniques, breathing exercises, visualisations, massaging pressure points, and avoiding certain foods and drinks, particularly alcohol.
The Daily Telegraph has published an article which highlights nine simple tips from pilots as to how to cope with turbulence and the fear of flying.
Can I get rid of my fear of flying?
The simple answer is yes.
Trying the techniques listed above might make your flight easier to cope with, however, if you really want to eliminate your fear you can try other methods such as hypnotherapy.
A trained hypnotherapist, would help you eliminate your phobia by first having an in-depth conversation with you as to how and when it affects you both mentally, emotionally and physically. For some people the fear of flying kicks in at the very mention of the thought of flying and for others it is not until they are in the plane. The therapist needs to clearly understand where the issues are for you to effectively help you and the problems this may have caused with relationships and limiting your opportunities.
Once the depth and state of the fear have been determined, then you would be invited you to relax (this is the fundamental principle of hypnotherapy). When we relax, our conscious mind takes a ‘back seat’ and allows for the unconscious or subconscious mind to be accessed and it is this that allows us to change your internal programming, the thing that causes the fear.
You will be taken on a journey within your mind which addresses all your fears with regards to flying and together, the internal images and emotions are changed so you are no longer fearful.
Most people notice a huge change after one session and many do not need to come back again but for others, they may need one more follow up.
The more honest and open you can be the better the results.