How many times have you boarded a flight and noticed one or two passengers who are acting a bit strange?
You might pass it off as stressful flight conditions or dissatisfaction with the airline, but they could be suffering from fear of flying. It becomes more evident as we all queue up to walk through security, knowing every step is getting you that little bit closer to sheer dread. The wide-eyes, clenched fists, profuse sweating, and rocking motions and a fast heart rate are among its symptoms.
It’s really easy to say to someone when they are about to fly, “don’t worry it’s the safest way to travel”, ironically it actually is. I decided to delve a little deeper into those actual statistics. I knew before I started that the amount of road traffic accidents were going to be quite high compared to a number of airline problems and crashes.
Here is what I found. There are more than 5 million road accidents compared to 20 accidents in flying. A more direct comparison per 100 million miles pits driving’s 1.27 fatalities and 80 injuries against flying’s lack of deaths and almost no injuries, which again shows air travel to be safer.
“…your chances of being involved in a plane crash are one in seven million.”
If you boarded a flight every single day it would take 26,000 years to get into trouble and a fully loaded Boeing 727 would have to crash every single day of the year to equal the current level of car fatalities.
Does this make you feel any better? No, it doesn’t! We ask ourselves over and over silently without anyone knowing. What if the engines fail, what if the pilot forgets to press a certain button, what if the steward doesn’t close the door properly, what if?!! The constant brain battle is never ending, it doesn’t matter if all other forms of travel are much riskier than flying, the matter is you have to step onto that huge flying machine and not get off until you have suffered for hours, silently praying on every hit of turbulence, fearing for the worst to happen.
OK, so whilst the battle is commencing in mind, everyone is getting on with the actual start of their holiday. You look over and see people snoozing, reading papers, playing games with the kids. How on earth do you do that unless you have had several Gins, and maybe a little Diazepam (This not recommended at all) to dull the pain, and make you act and feel somewhat normal again.
So let’s start at looking at what we can do to stop this severe feeling of hell, after all you’re going on your hols. Firstly really sit and think about it for a minute, whilst you have fleeting thoughts of dying in a plane that’s going to be flipped over by turbulence and nosedive into the sea, or the plane engines start to grind to a halt going over the Pyrenees Mountains. Maybe look at the actual realities of that. How many times have you heard of a plane doing this? Turbulence yes can get a little hair-raising but this will never happen. Again really, engine failure, these machines are built for the worst conditions ever, there checked, checked and checked again before take-off. Even if the engine had issues after take-off, they would simply re-route to the closest airport and land safely. I keep telling myself all of the above.
When we sit and think about it logically, we do have all the proper answers to dull down the negative fearful thoughts that keep us awake a week before travelling. (Mines a month before).
Today there are all sorts of routes to tackle this irrational fear:
1, Have you thought about being hypnotised? The brain is a very complex area, where professional people can rearrange how we think and feel in certain situations. (CBT) Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
2, The library has many books and CD’s on how to de stress yourself in such a situation, mind over matter. Research and try to understand the pattern of worry you have accidentally got yourself into, it will take work to undo what has been deep-rooted in your brain for a long time.
3, Book a fear of flying course. Easyjet, Ryanair, and many other airlines do run courses for people who fear the skies. It is usually a few days away at your nearest airport where you will actually have a pilot talking to you about the safety of flying. You then go up for a short time on a plane to see how you feel, after hearing all the positives rather than the negatives. The cost of these courses is really not that expensive.
If you’re not up for trying any of the above then start to look at what will work for you to think clearly:
1, Step onto the plane with knowledge.
2, Recognise that common sense makes sense.
3, Find the triggers that set you off.
4, Separate fear from danger.
5, Anticipate your anxiety.
Tips on becoming a happy flyer
1, Learn about flying. This is a biggie. Fears are often tied to the unknown. Consequently, the more knowledgeable you are about flying, the less you will be afraid of it. Do some research and learn more about how planes work.
2, Entertain yourself. Lucky for us in this day age, technology has us covered. Make sure your phone, tablet, or laptop is packed with music, shows, and movies that you love. Or, bring an interesting book, crossword puzzles, whatever is good at grabbing and keeping your attention.
3, Refer to the flight attendants. Flight attendants are your rocks whilst in the air. They have experienced it all so it is unlikely that they will be shaken. Each time I hear a strange noise or the plane hits some turbulence, I always look to the flight attendants. Their calm and collected demeanor puts me at ease because it tells me that it is all part of the flying experience and nothing to worry about.
4, Picture yourself landing. If you’re anything like me, you have a vision of a fiery plane plummeting into the ocean, instead, picture yourself landing in the airport safely and the doors opening welcoming you to the warm air on your face. You’ve arrived at your destination, grab your luggage, and walk out of the plane. Continue this vision in your mind to help you stay positive. Let your mind physically place you in the airport, vacation spot, or home. The idea is that you’ve arrived, safe and in one piece
I do hope that some of these tips will make your future flights a little less stressful. Unless you have a naughty child sat behind you that constantly kicks your seat! If that’s the case carry an extra bag of sweets with you, it works every time! 🙂