Flying is the gateway to a world of new adventures. But when flying becomes a source of anxiety, it can prevent you and those around you from enjoying your holiday or even worse, avoiding it all together. The fact of the matter is, flying is one of the safest modes of transport but it can be scary for some, particularly during turbulence. So to help make your next flight a stress-free experience, here are our tried and true methods for combating flying anxiety.
1 Bring noise-cancelling headphones
Often a source of nervousness comes from all the different noises a plane can make, followed by the thought – ‘Oh gosh, is that normal?’ Not only do planes make different noises throughout the flight, particularly around take-off and landing but every plane is different. The easiest way to avoid this type of thinking is by bringing your own noise-cancelling headphones to block out all the strange sounds.
2 Sit at the front of the plane
Turbulence can sometimes be inevitable but it won’t last forever. If you get nervous when there’s turbulence, try sitting closer to the front of the plane which is usually less bumpy compared to the back of the plane. The added bonus is you can usually get off the plane faster from the front once you’ve landed.
3 Reserve your preferred seat
To make you feel as comfortable as possible, reserve your favourite seat before flying. Some like the window seat so they can distract themselves with the view, others would rather be on the aisle to avoid looking down. Whichever seat you prefer, you will feel less anxious if you know you have your ideal seat booked ahead of time.
4 Travel with a loved one
Wherever possible, travel with your partner or a close friend that understands your fears (but preferably doesn’t feel the same way). They will be able to reassure you throughout the flight and even hold your hand during take-off and landing. Their calm presence will work wonders in helping you feel the same way.
5 Try to sleep
One of the best ways to combat anxiety when flying is sleeping. Do what you can to create a comfortable environment so you can catch some shuteye – perhaps you’ll even sleep through any turbulence! Bring your own pillow and eye mask, fill your phone or iPad with some relaxing music and hopefully you will have no problems drifting off to sleep.
6 Learn relaxation techniques
One of the quickest effects anxiety will have on your body is quickening your breathing. On the other hand, if you can control your breathing and slow it down, you will find your body will respond and will also start to relax. Prior to your flight, learn a few breathing techniques or even download a few relaxing apps to help manage your breathing.
7 Remember to eat and drink
Make sure you eat and drink throughout your flight. If you can’t stomach airline food, be sure to bring your favourite snacks, as an empty stomach may only contribute to your anxiety by feeling nauseous as well. Keep well hydrated throughout the flight, drinking plenty of water and avoid stimulating beverages with caffeine such as coffee.
8 Choose your plane
If you feel scared when flying, realise there are a few things that you can control. When booking a flight, choose a reputable airline that you trust. When picking the flight, try and book a larger plane that will be less susceptible to turbulence. Also choose calm routes - some destinations are known for severe weather conditions, so where possible avoid notoriously bumpy flight paths.
9 Chat to the air hostesses
It’s a good idea to let the air hostesses know that you are a nervous flyer. They will be able to check on you throughout the flight and can reassure you with any concerns you may have. Watching how calm they are during take-off, turbulence or landing will help you feel more relaxed, knowing they have done this a thousand times before.
10 Fly more often
It’s true. The more you fly, the more comfortable you will feel. It may seem counter intuitive but it really is mind over matter and once you begin to have more pleasant experiences, the smaller your fears will seem. When there are long stretches between hopping on a plane, it gives your mind more time to build it up into a bigger deal than it actually is.
11 Make plans for when you land
A great way to minimise your anxiety in the air, is to make grand plans for when you land. Already have your first stop picked out, be it heading straight to the hotel pool or going out to enjoy a nice breakfast. Throughout the flight, you can talk about what you are going to do and try and see past the flight itself.
12 Talk about it
A fear of flying is extremely common and is certainly nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, the more you talk to others about it, the less you will feel the need to keep your fears bottled up. Talk to your friends and family so they can understand it’s a source of anxiety for you, and in more serious cases, even talk to a doctor or therapist.
13 Do something
Don’t let your fears prevent you from experiencing the gift of travel. If you really want to conquer your fears, you can complete a Fearless Flyers course which is operated by Qantas. Designed to help you understand and deal with your fear, the course lets you learn from aviation professionals and tour the aircraft to get a greater understanding of flying and conquer your fears for good.