If you are scared of flying, the tips in this guide will help overcome your fear of flying.
And in this guide, you’ll learn 5 practical tips to make sure you overcome your fear and start to enjoy flying.
The best part? You’ll be free to travel the world again!
Let’s dive right in!
Step #1: Identify what triggers your fear of flying
What really triggers your fear of flying? What sets the entire anxiety process in motion? Getting clarity on what triggers your anxiety, will help you a lot in knowing what next steps you should take to reduce your anxiety.
This is the process of becoming aware.
Do you fear germs? Do you fear talking to people? Or sitting 8 hours straight next to someone you don’t know? Or is it something else… like claustrophobia?
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, the most common thing that triggers people’s fear of flying, is the fear that they will become overwhelmed with anxiety during the flight.
They visualize themselves getting anxious and not being able to escape. They see themselves panicking while all passengers are watching.
What is the thing, or things, you are scared of? When you are aware of your trigger, you know what you can work on and what strategies and techniques work best for the specific trigger.
Step #2: Understand that it is “just anxiety”
Whenever you feel anxious about flying, understand that the anxiety is not caused by the situation, event or trigger: but by you. Otherwise, this would mean that everyone would be scared of flying, driving or taking the elevator for example.
This doesn’t mean that your anxiety is your fault. And this also doesn’t mean that you did this to yourself.
What it means is that there is a little part of your brain that is responsible for your anxiety. It’s the amygdala that scans all the sensory information that is coming in. My clients don’t call this their amygdala, but visualize their amygdala as a little man: Mr. Anxiety.
Mr. Anxiety is a little man inside your brain who pushes the buttons. Whenever he perceives danger, he pushes a button and you feel anxiety. But unfortunately, Mr. Anxiety always makes guesses about what is dangerous. He doesn’t know what is really dangerous. But he wants to be on the safe side and doesn’t take any risks. That’s why you feel anxious about the silliest things.
Whenever you feel anxiety creeping in, simply blame it on Mr. Anxiety.
“Oh… it’s JUST Mr. Anxiety again! I am not in real danger, but Mr. Anxiety thinks I am. I shouldn’t worry too much… it’s JUST Mr. Anxiety!”
When do you do this?
Whenever you are overthinking, worrying, feel sweaty palms, have a racing heart and every other symptom that is related to anxiety.
Step #3: Allow yourself to feel anxious
Now comes the third step to get over your fear of flying.
Whenever you feel anxiety creeping in when you are at the airport or on the plane: simply allow yourself to feel anxious.
Mr. Anxiety makes you feel anxious by releasing cortisol and adrenaline into your bloodstream. And the more adrenaline is in your bloodstream, the more your creative, emotional brain takes over and the more real your scary thoughts seem to be.
But your thoughts are not a reflection of reality… neither are your emotions. Whenever you feel anxiety, point to Mr. Anxiety and then allow yourself to feel anxious.
Don’t fight your feelings, because that is showing Mr. Anxiety that also the anxiety you are feeling is something to be anxious about. By simply allowing and accepting your anxiety, you take off 90% of the pressure.
And allowing the anxiety doesn’t mean it becomes worse. It also doesn’t mean you are OK with it.
What it means is that you decide to no longer fight your anxiety with the same emotion it feeds itself with: anger, frustration and stress.
By accepting the anxiety, you let it run its course until it runs out of fuel.
It’s like playing a tug of war with your anxiety. Winning from anxiety doesn’t mean pulling harder in the hope you win… you can also let go and save your precious energy.
My clients learn the PAU Response (Point, Allow and Use). If you want to learn it as well, make sure you download my Free PDF before it expires.
Step #4: Use your aroused energy
The fourth step to get over your fear of flying is by using the aroused energy.
Whenever you’re feeling anxious, understand that this is because of adrenaline. This is the same hormone that rushes through your body when you are excited or go on a rollercoaster.
Without adrenaline, it’s hard to feel excited.
Why do you need to know this?
Let’s say two people are waiting to get on a rollercoaster. They both feel adrenaline rushing through their body, but one of them is extremely anxious and the other one is extremely excited.
How could that happen?
It’s because they both interpreted their adrenaline in a different way.
They both feel the aroused energy, but one of them perceives it as anxiety, while the other perceives it as excitement.
Whenever you are feeling anxiety in the plane, do the following:
“OMG, I am travelling to (fill in your destination)! I am SO freaking excited! I cannot wait!”
You use the aroused energy and transform it into excitement. Tell yourself how excited you are and maybe even close your eyes to visualize your upcoming trip.
Step #5: Become aware of the words and pictures in your head
The fifth step to get over the fear of flying is to become aware of the words and pictures in your head.
If you practice the previous four steps, you have the framework to turn your fear of flying into excitement.
But there is another extra step that can drastically lessen your fear of flying: it is becoming aware of the pictures and words in your head.
Your mind only responds to the pictures you make in your head and the words you tell yourself.
If you feel excessive anxiety prior to boarding the plane or even by thinking about the plane: what images and words pop up in your mind?
If you visualize a crashing plane, getting panic, freaking out or dying… of course, Mr. Anxiety makes you anxious in return!
Because he perceives danger, because of your negative thoughts and images.
When you really want to overcome your fear of flying, use the previous four steps and then become aware of what you are actively visualizing and telling yourself.
Transform the words and pictures in your mind into something exciting. Because your body will respond accordingly.
3 Super Tips to overcome your fear of flying
Super Tip #1: Exposure is key
Avoiding what you are scared of only increases the fear. This means that if you avoid taking the plane, you only increase your fear of flying. In order to successfully get over the fear of flying, you need to expose yourself to your fear and use the steps explained above. In another article, I explained how to expose yourself successfully to your fears. I highly recommend you read it next.
Super Tip #2: Educate yourself
The second bonus tip is to educate yourself about your fear of flying. There are many books that help you understand the safety of airplanes, what turbulence is and how planes work. Besides learning more about the safety of airplanes, you can also read more about how to cope with anxiety onboard. A great book I highly recommend is Soar. This book helps you understand what is happening whenever you have the fear of flying.
Last, make sure you read other in depth articles from resources like Cleveland Clinic.
Super Tip #3: Practice Relaxation Exercises
I do not recommend practising relaxation exercises with the goal of fighting your anxious feelings, because it is the opposite of acceptance. I recommend doing them after you had panic, or feel you reached the peak of your anxiety in order to calm yourself down more quickly.
Why? If you use relaxation exercises in the hope to reduce your anxiety, you’re only showing Mr. Anxiety that anxiety in itself is something to be anxious about.
So… are you going to get on your next flight with a new understanding of the fear of flying? I know you do! And isn’t it a relief that it’s perfectly fine to feel anxious on board?
As you’ve read, fighting against your anxiety doesn’t work: it makes it worse. But practising acceptance and tolerating your anxiety decreases the intensity of your fear. It’s OK to be anxious! And when you’ve practised acceptance, you can work on becoming aware of the words and pictures in your head… and transform them into constructive, positive ones.
Be nice to yourself. Be forgiving. And use the aroused energy you feel to visualize your exciting trip ahead.
If you want to learn more about freeing yourself from anxiety, then watch my FREE Limited-Time Training where I teach you the 3 biggest mistakes anxious people make and what to do instead.
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