Fear of Flying; Here’s How to Cope

December 9th, 2022

Humans weren’t used to airborne transportation until a century ago. That’s why it’s perfectly normal to have a certain degree of anxiety when traveling 40 feet in the air. However, if you just can’t bear the thought of stepping on a plane, you might have aerophobia, the fear of flying.

Don’t let this phobia stop you from traveling to new places, seeing new cultures, and living your life to the fullest. Here are our tips to overcome your fear of flying.

Understanding Your Fear

woman sitting and thinking

As with other forms of phobia, aerophobia is deeply rooted in other irrational fears. Perhaps you’re afraid of the helplessness you feel in midair. Or, the revving sound of the airplane disturbs your senses. When finding a solution to a phobia, it’s best to introspect and examine the surrounding fears contributing to your condition.

Fun fact: Air travel is statistically proven to be the safest form of transportation. For every 1 billion miles traveled, 0.07 deaths occurred via airplane, compared to 212.57 via motorcycle and 7.28 via automobile.

After you’ve mapped out the factors that make you anxious, it’s good practice to identify the triggers. It could be the sound of the revving engine, as we mentioned, or the sight of the ground from above. By identifying these triggers, you can find a way to eliminate or subdue them, which helps you tackle your phobia.

Breaking It Down For Yourself

mechanic fixing plane

Airplanes are a relatively new phenomenon in human history, so unless you build and design these machines, you probably have limited knowledge about how they work. Andrew Smith once said, ‘People fear what they don’t understand’, and perhaps it’s true in your case.

One remedy is to (over)educate yourself about how airplanes work. We don’t mean you should sign up for a college course on aeronautics, but spend some time understanding the basics of an aircraft:

  • How it operates.
  • The physics and chemistry.
  • Safety measures.

For example, pilots have a weather radar system to detect extreme weather conditions and avoid them. This system reduces turbulence for the passengers and ensures a smooth trip. Moreover, in most modern aircrafts, the seat you’ll be sitting in is designed to handle up to 16 times the force of gravity. Plus, it’s fire-resistant and self-extinguishing.

When it comes to the human factor behind air travel, find comfort in the fact that there are highly trained professionals who had to undergo rigorous training to work in this industry. Pilots must attend advanced formal training, possess 250-400 hours of flying, and have multiple certifications to qualify for flying. The same, if not more, is required of people working in Air Traffic Control, with various aptitude tests and a high level of seniority in the field.

When you dig a little deeper, you’ll be amazed at how much work engineers and lawmakers have put into air travel over the past century to ensure your safety. We recommend having this knowledge with you to reassure yourself.

Handy Apps

If turbulence amplifies your fear, you should download the SOAR app. Along with handy hints and tips from a former pilot and licensed therapist, Tom Bunn, SOAR also comes with a handy G Force meter. This feature tells you exactly how much G force the airplane is experiencing, so you have a clear idea of how much altitude difference you go through. This knowledge will be sure to bring you extra comfort while flying.

Steering Clear From Overusing Medication

person refusing alcohol

Sometimes, your fear can be overwhelming and a boost from medication or alcohol seems like the perfect remedy. However, use these methods cautiously, as they can deliver a false sense of comfort.

Psychologically, alcohol can add to the anxiety and leave you dehydrated at high altitudes. Instead of turning to external factors, try working on internal factors pre-flight. Prioritise sleep, repeat reaffirming mantras, and practice deep breathing before, during, and after your time in the air.

While flying, refrain from looking out of the window. Better yet, get the aisle seat, to avoid the view of the ground. Trick your brain into adjusting to the new flat surface by doing what you usually do to relax at home. For example, watch videos, binge on your favorite series, or read a book. It’s not easy to constantly remind yourself of these things, but it improves with time and practice.

Seeking professional help

man talking to therapist about fear of flying

Aerophobia isn’t a “crazy” or “childish” condition. If you feel like it’s affecting your life negatively, and self-soothing remedies don’t work for you, it may be time to seek help from a mental health professional.

Your therapist might suggest trying cognitive behavioral therapy – singling out negative thought patterns and finding healthier coping mechanisms. They could also refer you to virtual reality to conquer your fear. Getting professional help is crucial, and it’s encouraged to help you overcome your fears.

There’s no better feeling than knowing that you can live your life in the most fearless way possible. This attitude will help you learn new things and lead a more fulfilling existence. Ready to squash your aerophobia? Book a trip today to that country you’ve always wanted to visit and come back to tell the tales of how you beat your fear of flying!

Related articles