Helping With Flying Phobias

Helping With Flying Phobias

Do you or a loved one struggle with flying due to a phobia of flying or planes? It’s more common than you think. Between 2.5% and 6.5% of Americans say they experience anxiety or fear of flying. It’s ok, even as an adult, to have a phobia of something as complex as flying, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still fly. In this blog, ParkDIA is going to go over some of the ways you can combat your aviophobia so you can still use DIA to visit your friends and family.

Lack Of Understanding

There are several things that can contribute to aviophobia. It may not even directly be aviophobia. It could be a fear of heights, feeling trapped inside the plane, or just a general lack of understanding of how planes work. The easiest fix for this is to learn more about planes and how they fly. There has to be some science behind it if thousands of people are flying every day and pilots are ok heading to work every day without worrying about falling out of the sky.

It’s ok if you don’t become an aerial engineer, but review the idea of lift and learn the flight codes pilots are required to fly with, like the altitudes they’ll use when traveling different directions to avoid crashes. It’s ok to be nervous, but most of the time learning more about something can help ease that fear, and it’s ok to watch an explanation meant for kids if you’re not getting it. Planes are complicated, but they are safe.

Think Happy Thoughts

Oftentimes the issue isn’t the thing itself, but the anticipation of the thing. It’s like any kid worried about getting a shot, only to be surprised when they don’t feel anything. The same often goes for flying. We spend so long standing in lines and waiting at our gate that those thoughts have time to ruminate and grow. Instead of fixating on the problem, think about something else.

Now, we should note that trying to repress thoughts doesn’t work. You are mentally marking a topic, even to be ignored, and so your subconscious is keeping it close to the conscious mind. It will come back if you try to not think about it. So what can you do? Here’s a sample thought process of what we mean:

 

  1. “Oh no, the plane is going to crash while we’re flying.”
  2. “I don’t want to think about that.”
  3. “But what if it does?”

 

This kind of thought process is cyclical and it doesn’t come up with a solution; it only increases your phobia. You’ll keep thinking of what if’s and increase your anxiety. Instead, try this:

 

  1. “Oh no, the plane is going to crash while we’re flying.”
  2. “It won’t. Planes have been tested for years. There is a one in 11 million chance the plane will crash.”
  3. “What if we’re the one?”
  4. “Then there are plans and safety precautions all of the plane attendants and pilots know.. That’s what the safety demonstration is for. Now, should the four go in the middle square or the middle right one?”

 

While you may not have a sudoku puzzle handy like in this example, the point is that if you actively combat your fears with facts it’s easier to move away. Engage your brain and think through the logic of the problem. Even better, keep your brain engaged in other logic-based puzzles, like sudoku or crosswords. This keeps your brain working on a puzzle with a solution, like you are doing when you face those extremes with facts and reason. When it doubt, reason it out.

Drinking Doesn’t Help

A common recommendation to help with anxiety over flying is to drink or to take sleep medications, but these don’t actually help. In fact, sleep medications often mess with your actual sleep cycle and do more damage than good. Drinking has no positive effects outside of reducing nerves, but that won’t reduce the phobia. Not only that, but it creates a dependency on needing to drink in order to fly. If you need to sleep to get through a flight, then use unmedicated means, like breathing techniques, which we’ll go over, or by working on a project or reading a book. 

Breathing Techniques

Anxiety makes your body panic, which locks down our ability to reason, one of the strongest tools you have against panic. It’s important to reduce that fear, and the easiest thing you can do is breathe. Simple, right? There are a lot of breathing techniques that work, and there may be better ones for you than the ones we suggest, but the important part is to take a moment and get air back into your brain so you can use that reasoning again.

A simple breathing technique is the 4-7-8 technique: breathe in for four seconds, hold for seven seconds, and breathe out for eight. You may need to change it for the altitude of the plane to something more like 4-5-6 or 4-4-4. Whatever you do, the point is to focus on breathing. Go back to that reasoning step and walk through your phobia instead of trying to repress it.

Severe Cases

A lot of people will say phobia when they really mean general anxiety about something. A full-blown phobia is likely something you can’t reason out of because it is a psychologically unreasonable fear that you can’t cope with. If you have particularly severe aviophobia, you should consult a doctor or psychiatrist before you have to fly to see if they have any medication they can prescribe. 

If you’re worried about flying, worry less about where your car is parked while you’re away. ParkDIA’s 24-hour security monitored offsite airport parking lot offers DIA parking without having to pay for the expensive airport parking rates at DIA. If you’re going to be flying out of Denver, then reserve a parking spot at ParkDIA today.

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