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Friday, April 06, 2007

How To Overcome Fear Of Flying

Have you ever wanted to take that dream trip to a tropical island in the Caribbean to soak up the sun and atmosphere, but had that dream taken away from you because of your fear of flying? It doesn't have to be this way! You need to identify exactly why it is you harbour these, and other, fears, and discover ways to overcome fear of flying and other limitations.

What is fear of flying?

An unwillingness to even think about getting onboard a plane is a sure fire sign of fear of flying, but these are some other common symptoms:

- Worrying, and becoming overstressed about a flight for days, weeks, even months in advance

- Having feelings of anxiety before boarding the plane

- Feeling you need a strong drink or sedatives to calm down before a flight

- Feeling uncomfortable when the door closes, when the plane takes off, and when you hear certain noises

- Feeling elated and overcome with relief when you finally get off the plane

Why do you fear flying?

In order to overcome fear of flying we need to understand why the fear exists. There are two types of things in our lives; things we can control, and things we cannot control. Things we can control include our thoughts, our actions, and our reactions to certain situations. However, we cannot control things such as the behaviour of others (legally anyway), the thoughts of others, and the weather, among other things.

Fears emanate from our irrational assumptions that the things we cannot control will turn out to be bad experiences. For example, with flying we have absolutely no control; everything is in the hands of the captain. And even if we wanted to, we can't just stop the plane and get off. Where do these assumptions come from though? We certainly aren't born with these fears; they are learned through our experiences and through the experiences of others. Try to think of a time that triggered your fear of flying, it could be a personal experience of a turbulent flight you had, the fearful stories of others, or the frightening images seen on television. It's likely that your imagination takes these experiences and heightens them into a worse case scenario that accentuates your fear. You need to use your imagination to overcome fear of flying, rather than allow it to feed the fear.

Seldom do people realise that flying is significantly safer than travelling in a car or a train. Think about that for a second; it is more dangerous to hop into a car and drive down a freeway than it is to fly, yet people do it every single day without even thinking twice. When you hop into a car or a train what are you thinking? Really, the next time you get into a car or train, take note of what goes through your mind. Most likely you're not even thinking about whether or not it's safe to do so, you just do it. Yet when a plane is involved we allow our imagination to overwhelm us due to the uncertainty, because after all how can an object that big possibly fly?

Overcome fear of flying

There are a number of ways to feel more comfortable about flying, and to use your imagination in your favour.

- Prior to the flight have a full, nutritious meal as it will help you relax during the flight.

- Ensure you pack books to read, or music to listen to, or anything else that will distract you, while you are waiting for the flight, and during the actual flight

- Arrive at the airport with plenty of time to spare so you can check-in and get your luggage through without too much hassle

- Avoid sugary foods, or caffeine prior to the flight as this may increase stress levels

Other than these practical tips, a very effective way to overcome fear of flying is to visualise the flight. Before your flight try to visualise every aspect of the journey; from the time you arrive at the airport imagine everything going smoothly during the check-in, see yourself walking calmly, even laughing, as you go through the gates and onto the plane. Imagine yourself sitting in your seat, being absorbed in your book, then seeing the magnificent view out the window. Visualise the smooth landing, and how thankful you are to the crew for such an enjoyable flight. Now that wasn't so bad was it?

Visualisation is a powerful technique not just to help overcome fear of flying, but also to overcome any other fear you have.

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