Posted: by Jo Wednesday, 12 December 2018 @ 15:42
When I was very young, I loved flying. In fact, I wanted to become a pilot – inspired by tales of Amy Johnson and Amelia Earhart – and I would get hugely excited just getting to the airport to see the planes. But a couple of turbulent flights when I was in my 20’s knocked my confidence, and left me scared rather than excited. To the extent that it started ruining my holidays, as I would spend half the week dreading the flight home.But I refused to be that person. The person that doesn’t get out there to see the world, because they’re scared. So here are 9 tips that I have used over the years that absolutely work for me. I use all 9 on most flights, to the extent that I have now pretty well forgotten that I don’t like flying.
1. Get to the airport in plenty of time, so you have less stress before flight: a calm mindset is the best one.
2. Save a magazine that you love, especially for the flight; and choose a new book. Take a physical book, not an e-book, so you can read it on take-off and landing; and start reading it before you travel, so you are already into the story.
3. On board, I run a few reassuring facts through my head, to remind myself how safe it is. ‘The pilot would not be doing this job and flying this plane today, if he thought there was any danger. The crew do this every day, day in and day out. You are 856 times more likely to die in a car than a plane (CAA figures). More people die in the UK from falling out of bed than flying.’
4. I use some mindfulness techniques: focus on the small details, the absolute immediacy of what is happening right now. The food, my book, a story in my magazine, talking to my travel companion, the song lyrics on my ipod. As soon as my thoughts stray into worrying about what might happen, or fears start crowding in – I bring my attention back to what is immediately in front of me.
5. Bring your ipod, have a playlist you love. It is the sounds on a plane that worry us most: the perfectly normal change in engine note as the plane changes speed or direction slightly. Music works wonders here, to block out those sounds, and to calm the spirit and distract the mind.
6. Flying is the perfect time to meditate. Let your partner know you want some headspace. Close your eyes, focus on your breathing, do a body scan, visit your happy place. You have the luxury of time. Put your headphones on and listen to a guided meditation, if you find the chatter too distracting.
7. Repeat some positive affirmations to yourself, if you start to feel worried. I have loads stored in my head! ‘My faith is stronger than my fear’. ‘My guardian angel is always with me’. ‘I am fearless and therefore powerful’. ‘I can do this’. ‘Stay strong’.
8. Feel the fear and do it anyway: follow Susan Jeffers’ brilliant advice. Name your feelings ‘excitement’ instead of ‘fear’. Celebrate being the person that pushes through their barriers and doesn’t let their fearful emotions get in the way. Repeat to yourself – ‘She who is brave is free’.
9. Finally - play it down when you talk about flying, and choose the right language. Say ‘I’m not a great flyer, but I’m getting better’, rather than ‘I’m terrified’. Don’t define yourself as someone who is afraid.
A note also about travelling companions: I find I am much braver travelling on my own, than with my husband. And also braver travelling with younger colleagues who are nervous, as I step up to reassure them. If someone beside you is more nervous than you – see this as a chance to step up. And if you are travelling with your kids, chances are they will be excited to be flying, so use their energy and excitement to label your own feelings as excitement not fear.
I want to see the world, and visit exciting places. I don’t want to let fear narrow my world or reduce my experiences.
Follow these 9 tips, and you’ll overcome your fears.
Here are some gift ideas for someone who is afraid of flying; help turn their fear into faith!