6 ways to stop a fear of flying ruining your holiday

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From mild jitters to full-on panic attacks, here's how to tackle those flying fears.

Photograph taken inside the cockpit of a plane

© Karim Nafatni

According to the statistics you're more likely to be eaten by a shark than be involved in a plane crash. And you're more likely to be killed by a cow than a shark. It's safe to say your odds are pretty low.

It's the safest way to travel and the most convenient way to see the world, but then horrible accidents happen, it brings our flying fears back to the surface.

If you're one of the millions of people out there who hates the idea of soaring at 30,000 feet, now's the time to tackle your fears head on.

How to stop being scared of flying


1. Don't avoid flying


Avoiding stepping foot on an aircraft is a sure fire way to make a small niggling fear into a massive problem. Although you might feel safer avoiding the situation, its important to remember that fears and phobias have the highest success rates for treatment of any psychological problem.

2. Concentrate on where you're going, not how you'll get there


Imagine laying on the beach sipping a cocktail, not boarding the flight and crying. The purpose of the flight should help distract you from the actual flying bit.

3. Distract and breathe


Bring a book, a magazine or make an effort to chat to the person next to you, whatever works best to distract your mind. If you're on a long haul flight, watching three of your favourite movies back to back should make the time speed by.

If none of these distraction techniques work, use steady breathing to calm your body down. Traditionally used to soothe panic attacks, breathing in through your nose for five seconds and releasing slowing through your mouth for five seconds will decrease your heart rate and calm you down.

4. Challenge your doubts


That whirring sound isn't a wing falling off and that clicking noise isn't a signal to cabin crew that something is terribly wrong. Settle your nerves by asking the cabin crew what things mean (the video below by Virgin Atlantic is pretty good too) or do some research before you board.



5. Stay hydrated


Getting drunk isn't the best option for nervous passengers.

One drink might calm your nerves for 30 minutes but then you've got to do the rest of the flight feeling tipsy and on edge. Instead drink plenty of water, eat little and often and rest if you can.

6. Try a fear of flying course


Lots of airlines in the UK offer Click fear of flying courses. Basically they teach you how the plane works, what the buttons do, how the pilots deal with problems and, by the end of the day, your rational brain knows just how difficult it is for anything to go wrong.

Any tips to share? Tweet us @handbagcom

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