by David Lanzas
One of the key causes of anxiety and stress for fearful flyers is their perceived lack of control. This in turn can make them avoid air travel – limiting their lives considerably – and if they do get on a plane, cause them suffering.
While it’s true that as passengers we have no control over the flight itself (fortunately), this doesn’t mean that there’s nothing anxious flyers can do to feel that they do have some control over the situation. And here are five simple ways you can do that:
- To start with, be sure to choose your airline seat. Something as simple as this will relieve the tension generated by the uncertainty of not knowing where you can sit. Some passengers prefer to be on the the aisle or in a certain part of the plane, and being able to make this choice helps them to face the flight in a better mood.
- Bring comforting ítems with you – it can be a book or device, or even a favourite blanket or pillow. Something simple that you associate with the security of your day-to-day life at home.
- Go ahead and introduce yourself to and strike up conversations with airline staff, especially your flight attendants – and especially don’t hesitate to speak with them if any concerns arise. Don’t forget – they’re there to help everyone have a safe and comfortable flight, and being able to ask them for help is priceless.
- Learn more about the process of flying itself; understanding how airplanes and safety systems work can help many people feel more secure and comfortable during their flights (this blog, for example, has published many posts on how airplanes fly). In addition, knowing the emergency procedures and the instructions of the flight crew can help people feel that they are prepared for any eventuality.
- Last but not least, it's a good idea to consult a mental-health professional to help you manage your anxiety. Identifying traumatic experiences and limiting beliefs that can be feeding your aerophobia, then working to overcome them, is without a doubt the best way to gain a true sense of control.
Founder of the Lanzas Institute, David Lanzas is a psychologist specialising in anxiety and trauma