Managing anxiety when flying

As a child I loved to fly. I loved everything about it. I loved the airport, the flight, the bag carousel, the trolleys, everything. I found it all wildly exciting and truly fascinating.

When I was about 21 that changed. I started flying a lot on my own. My parents had emigrated to France by then, so going ‘home’ from university always involved a flight, sometimes multiple flights as the direct ones were very seasonal.

I had a few bad experiences which included missed flights, bad weather, turbulent flights and my love for flying transformed quite quickly into a fear of flying.

The problem with this is that I love to travel. I’ve never let my fear stop me travelling as I don’t think about the flight until a few days before. Booking the flight feels exciting I’m just not overjoyed when the day comes.

It’s one thing being afraid on my own, but with a family I really felt I needed to get a handle on it. I really didn’t want to pass on my fear to the children, who all really enjoy flying.

Having said that, there’s no better distraction than a breastfeeding baby or wriggly toddler.

I’ve tried all sorts over the years. I had auricular acupressure from a colleague once before a flight but it made no difference at all sadly. I’ve tried breathing exercises, these help to some extent. I’ve tried listening to music or watching a movie, this also helps to some extent, until the turbulence starts and then I can’t concentrate on the distraction. I’ve tried having a glass of wine or even a Bacardi and coke – that just made it worse. I’ve also tried other distraction techniques but they only worked for a few minutes.

I was much better on our recent flights. To prepare this time I listened to a couple of hypnosis for flying episodes on Spotify prior to our flight and I also listened to a podcast with the pilot behind ‘ask the pilot‘. It was a no messing around response to a series of questions from someone who was afraid of flying.

I loved the straightforward, no nonsense approach to the pilot’s responses and he answered a lot of the crazy questions I had in my own head.

On the flight this time I was able to just think back over his words and responses to the questions he had answered and kept it together. I’ve included a couple of links above in case they can help you.

Are you afraid of flying? What helps or doesn’t help you? Do share your thoughts in a comment below.


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