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Fear of flying – our 3 top tips

If you get nervous when you think about flying on a plane, rest assured that you’re not alone. About 25% of people experience a certain level of anxiety when they have to fly. Flight phobia is rarer though and affects only 10% of the population. But you don’t have to put up with a fear of flying. It’s not a genetically programmed issue, it is learned behaviour. The good news is that you can unlearn it again.

Let’s have a look at the fear of flying itself. In many cases it’s not a fear of the actual flight but a fear of something associated with flying. This could be claustrophobia, fear of heights or being out of control. Some people are worried that they’ll get a panic attack while on the place, so it’s their fear of losing control over their own behaviour that’s worrying them.

Here are 3 tips that can help ease the fear, whatever it is based on.

Do some research

For some people, it’s simply the thought of being in a large metal container propelling through the air at high speeds. How can that be safe? If that is you, then research might help to ease your fears.

In the age of the internet, all the information is at your fingertips.

Get information about flight statistics and you will discover that flying is about 22 times safer than travelling by car. You probably feel fine in a car. Researching facts like these can ease the logical part of the fear.

Many airlines also offer fear-of-flying course now, where you will be educated about the mechanics of flying, how the plane stays up in the air and how the physics behind it works. Understanding all this better can go a long way to calm those nerves.

Imagine your journey beforehand

If you’re considering flying somewhere and just the thought makes you nervous, try this. Find a comfortable space, close your eyes and imagine the whole journey. Maybe you can get a friend or relative who enjoys flying to describe exactly what happens. See all the details vividly in your mind’s eye. Let them tell you their positive experience in as much detail as possible so that you can create the same positive experience in your mind. Repeat this a few times before you take the actual journey.

This positive experience will become part of your memories. Our brain cannot distinguish between real memories and imagined ones, so when you get to the airport, everything there will remind you of your positive implanted memories.

When we use mental rehearsal in a really vivid way, our minds can’t distinguish this from the real thing, so we “normalise” this and expect it to happen.  Hence, in the experiment below mental rehearsal improved the musicians’ musical performance.

Please find the link to the experiment below the article. *

Allow your mind to focus on other things

When you settle down in your seat on the airplane, have lots of different activities ready. Bring a book, some puzzles, maybe some games on your phone or tablet that you can play in airplane mode. You can do anything you enjoy that can take your mind of the fact that you are about to fly in an aeroplane.

Also, remember the reason for the trip. Let your mind wander to the lovely holiday destination ahead, or mentally prepare for your business meeting. Concentrating on something else will take away your mind’s attention from what’s worrying you.

Hypnotherapy can help

But of course, there’s always hypnotherapy. Book in for a session to help you overcome your fear of flying. We’ll work with your subconscious where your fears are hiding, uncover what’s causing them and remove the fears with targeted instructions for your brain. You will also learn relaxation techniques that will help you get into a serene state of mind before your travels.

I am Samantha Culshaw-Robinson, a clinical hypnotherapist and I have been helping people get over their fear of flying since 2010. To book a complimentary initial session to see if hypnotherapy is the right tool for you, please get in touch. You can either email me at sam@livewellpractice.co.uk or ring me at 075 222 777 22.

If you would like to book in for a session, please fill in your contact details on my consultation page.


* Motor imagery training: Kinesthetic imagery strategy and inferior parietal fMRI activation.

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