For millions of Americans the idea of getting on a plane and flying is one of the most scary imaginable. People all over the world struggle with this fear, which recent studies ranked number three on the list of the top ten phobias.
Statistically speaking, flying is 29 times safer than traveling in a car. Thousands of flights safely and routinely take off and land at airports around the globe every day. Yet fear of flying still strikes millions.
There are many homemade remedies that frightened travelers have concocted to help them survive a flight.
Most include either alcohol or over the counter sleep aids that allow the traveler to sleep their way through the anxiety of a trip. There is a better way to conquer your fear of flying. Psychologists have identified the four most common thought patterns in people who fear flying, and provided some techniques to combat them:
Rumination: This is when you obsess about how bad the situation is, dwelling on your fears. Psychologists say the best way to combat this type of thinking is to find something positive about the experience, no matter how small, and refocus your thinking on that thing. It could be the nice view out your window or the movie being shown. Whatever it is, moving your thoughts outside the situation can help calm your anxiety.
Self-blame: This is when the person focuses on their failures and allows them to feed into their fear. In this case, it might involve chastising one's self for being afraid of flying. The best way to combat self-blame? Remind yourself that you are achieving an incredible breakthrough by taking the trip, and that progress is a slow and steady process.
Resignation: This is when a person allows themselves to feel hopelessly out of control of the environment around them. This creates a mindset where the person can feel paralyzed with fear, unable to relax. The best way to combat this type of fear is to re-affirm that you do have control of the situation. You can control things like your breathing and use muscular relaxation techniques to relieve stress.
Catastrophizing: This term refers to fear that causes a person to envision how bad the situation is or could become. Those who are afraid to fly often say this is the most common type of thought, imagining a disaster that is statistically almost impossible. The best way to combat this type of fear is acknowledge your fear and challenge it. Remind yourself of another time where you faced up to something that scared you or stood tall in the face of a problem. Challenge yourself to conquer this fear just as you did another before it.
Flying is statistically the safest means of travel, so don't let your fears stand in the way of your life and getting where you want to go.