Don’t let Fear of Flying Keep You “Down”

airplane after takeoff

By Perel Grossman

Some of you may know me as the fearless leader of our JWRP travel division at GoInspire. But what you may not know is that I am not all that fearless. Don’t ask me to drive in the snow. Don’t show me your pet cave cricket. And for heaven’s sake… don’t ask me to fly! Because I am here to admit that I suffer from the dreaded F.O.F. (a.k.a. Fear of Flying).

Caren Redlich, LCSW, explains the root of aviophobia: “Fear of flying usually comes from not feeling in control. It also triggers other fears such as separation anxiety.”

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Perel, you spend ALL DAY booking flights. How can YOU suffer from F.O.F.?”

luggage in terminal (1)And I’ll tell you: “I don’t know.”

But please understand – I do not let my distaste for flying keep me from traveling. I do it anyway. And, thank G-d, the worst I’ve suffered throughout my travels were some stains on my coat from who-knows-what that spilled on it in the overhead compartment of the aircraft. (Ewww!). Otherwise, I’m totally okay.

However, for those of you who are utterly paralyzed at the thought of boarding an aircraft, here is some advice from the experts (and a few lines of advice from little old me) to help you ease the pain of traveling by air:

  1. Don’t avoid flying. The longer you avoid it, the more you enforce your fear. The more often you fly, the more mundane it will become. That’s because it’s hard for your body to maintain a high level of high anxiety over and over again.
  2. view from airplane

  3. Check out the statistics. If you research this subject, you will find that as many as one in every three Americans are fearful of flying. So you’re definitely not the only one. You will also discover that flying is considered safer than traveling by car. In fact, some studies indicate that a person is more likely to be seriously or fatally injured when walking than when flying. If these facts help you, great. If they just cause you to stop walking, forget it and move on to number 3.
  4. Anxious travelers are most nervous during takeoff and landing, as well as during the accursed (and seemingly mandatory) turbulence portion of almost every flight. Therefore, experts advise passengers to practice deep breathing techniques (finally – Lamaze comes in handy!) or to imagine themselves in a situation that they find calming. (For me, that’s floating aimlessly in a rowboat in perfect weather, with the sun beaming down on me. If you also have a fear of boating, replace this scenario with another).
  5. IMG_6844

  6. If you start thinking panicky thoughts, replace them with others. In this case, the more intricate the better. Plan an elaborate dinner menu in your head. Think of the delightful time you will have when you reach your destination, be it “away”, or in the comfort of your own bed. These thoughts will fill up your mind, and drive out the anxious thoughts you don’t want to dwell on.
  7. Engage in activities that are both distracting and relaxing. Some examples: reading, listening to music, watching a movie, knitting or crocheting, playing games, or even talking with the person beside you.
  8. If it’s a long flight, consider taking a sleeping pill. Or you might want to try a homeopathic anti-anxiety remedy. (But be sure to check with your physician first).
  9. There are courses out there available to help you conquer your aviophobia. Some of these can be taken online, while others are offered by airlines. Check out a list of available resources here.
  10. stewardess
  11. If you still can’t manage to consider flying, even with all these tips, you may want to consult a therapist. There are many successful treatments out there, including desensitization techniques, cognitive therapy, and medication.

As I prepare to embark on my second flight in a two week span, I bid you good luck in conquering your anxiety. As for me, I’ll be writing my next article on board the aircraft, while fiddling with that air vent. Last flight, it won. I demand a rematch.

Thank you to our experts for providing many of these tips: Dodi Lamm, LCSW-R; Caren Redlich, LCSW; Ettie Bersson, MSW, CASAC-T.

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6 Comments on Don’t let Fear of Flying Keep You “Down”

  1. Very informative. Thank you for the tips.

  2. I love Mrs. Grossman’s articles! Informative, interesting, and entertaining! Keep ’em coming!

  3. Rhonda Silver says:

    Great article. Helpful and humorous at the same time. I really enjoy this blog.

  4. Great article, and as always, infused with your entertaining humor!

  5. Glad to read this informative post. It’s very helpful and useful for us.

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