Does a fear of flying mean you’ll be restricted to a holiday in the UK again this year? Fear of flying is an excessive worry of air travel and knowing that air travel is one of the safest methods of travelling does little to reassure those that suffer from fear of flying and many avoid flying at all costs.
This avoidance can affect people both professionally, avoiding air travel for business and personally, as family trips or visiting loved ones abroad seems impossible. It is thought that over 10% of the population suffer from fear of flying.
If you do, know that you are not alone.
Possibly you used to travel by air quite comfortably and have developed a fear of flying over time, this is common and often in women happens after having children.
People who have a fear of flying usually fall into one of two groups;
- Those for whom the fear is concerned with the aircraft itself, fearing a fault, bad weather, terrorism or turbulence.
- Those who fear a loss of control. This could be because of fear of an anxiety attack, being trapped in a confined space, losing control of emotions or of bodily functions, all in public.
The fear can also develop alongside anxiety, often anxious people avoid leaving environments they consider to be safe, a type of avoidance strategy.
If you are suffering from anxiety therefore, fear of flying can happen alongside fear of travel of other sorts, and is especially linked to avoiding situations where escape is difficult, impossible or embarrassing.
I see a lot of anxiety clients who also fear being stuck in a car, on a motorway for example, in a traffic jam. Even fear of meetings at work, anywhere where you don’t feel in control.
It’s all normal with anxiety.
It could also be simply a specific phobia, just around flying.
For some, just the thought of flying may cause increased anxiety or a panic attack. A fear of flying could be linked to other psychological problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder, claustrophobia or a fear of heights.
Even the language around flying can be worrying ‘terminal’, ‘final call’ – none of this is particularly comforting.
If your fear of flying is holding you back from exploring the world, visiting family or expanding your career horizons there are a number of ways in which you can begin to help yourself:
- Relaxation exercises – spending just a small amount of time each day relaxing can help to reduce levels of anxiety.
- Breathing exercises – taking a few deep ‘belly’ breaths can help to calm you. Shallow breathing, which we do when we’re nervous can make you feel jittery and light headed.
- Learning about how planes actually work -there are courses available that teach you about the outside and inside of a plane and lots of information regarding the countless hours of training that pilots, co-pilots and flight attendants have to go through before flying, not to mention the contingency plans in place.
There is help for you, lots of psychotherapy techniques can help, systematic desensitisation, hypnosis to explore the subconscious threat, some NLP techniques.
If you need help, you can contact me here to ask questions, discuss and make a start on being free.