One of every six adults has aviophobia, the fear of flying. Do you? I’m not scared of flying, but since I’m freaked out by other things (elevators, spiders, the dark), I know how it feels to be panicky and out of your comfort zone. Here are 10 ways to chill out when you’re nervous…
1. Remember that big commercial airplanes are super safe and easy to fly. I was once sitting next to an off-duty captain and he lamented to me, “Flying a commercial plane is like driving a bus. So easy, it’s boring!”
2. Turbulence is usually greater at the back of the plane, so ask for a seat as close to the front of the plane as you can get.
3. Remind yourself that air travel is the second safest mode of transportation in the world (second only to elevators and escalators). The chances of being in an accident are about one in 11 million.
4. Don’t drink coffee or eat chocolate in the hours leading up to your flight, since caffeine can cause nervousness.
5. Breathe deeply—in through your nose and out through your mouth. Deep breathing can really calm your nerves. (I learned this from lamaze!)
6. Did you know there are actually classes for fearful flyers? (Like this one.)
7. Prevent your mind from obsessively imagining worst-case scenarios by reading a book or watching a movie. I’ve found that crossword puzzles or Sudoku are the most helpful, since they require just enough concentration.
8. Another way to distract yourself from scary thoughts is to list baby names from A to Z. Start with boys—”Adrian, Bobby, Charlie…”—and then list girls’ names—”Amanda, Beatrice, Charlotte…” Works like a charm.
9. Picture exactly what you’re going to do once you get off the plane. When I get claustrophobic in an elevator, I’ll think to myself, “I’m going to walk down the hallway and see my friend, and tonight, I’ll watch 30 Rock reruns and make cheesy pasta.” By focusing on what will happen after the scary incident (elevator ride, plane trip), you can distract yourself from your jitters and mentally fast-forward through the event.
10. If all else fails, have a giant glass of wine before the flight, haha.
Are you scared of flying? What do you do to keep calm?