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5 tips for combating fear of flying

Given the recent spate of flight tragedies and emergencies in the air, you may be less reluctant to fly these days.

Do you have a fear of flying, also known as aviophobia or aerophobia? Some of the symptoms of both conditions include sweating, shaking, sweating, irritability, stomachache, shortness of breath, and even heart palpitations.

If it’s a phobia you’ve had all of your life or just recently developed, below are some tips that can help ease your discomfort.

Reduce anxiety

Geraldina Oviedo, a flight attendant with Air Canada, told CityNews it’s important to try to reduce anxiety by “finding things that relax you.”

She said one way to reduce anxiety is by travelling with a companion who can try and calm the afflicted person.

Another way is to plan ahead and ask for a seat where you feel more comfortable, whether it is the back, middle or the front of the aircraft. Oviedo suggests taking a seat in the middle.

She also suggested speaking with your flight attendants about your phobia since they can offer tips and support.

Watch a video explainer below of how to deal with a panic attack on a flight:

Avoid alcohol and caffeine

Although some people consume alcohol on the flight to de-stress, experts suggest limiting it to one drink or avoiding it altogether. However, Oviedo said if you are taking anti-anxiety medication for your phobia, to not mix it with alcohol.

Experts also advise refraining from having caffeinated drinks since they can worsen the anxiety.

Meditation and relaxation

Some experts suggest breathing exercises or relaxation techniques to help combat your fear of flying.

One way is to listen to music or watching a movie on the fight. Another way is to take deep breaths, which will help decrease hyperventilation and trigger muscle relaxation.

Know the statistics

Statistics have shown that travelling by air is much more safer than travelling by road.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, 109 people died in plane crashes from 2002 to 2007; compared to 196,724 people who died in car crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), during the same time period.

Know what goes on during a flight

Experts suggest researching how a plane flies, what certain sounds means, what causes turbulence, and so on.

According to experts, turbulence can be felt more at the back of a plane, so it is advisable to avoid a seat in that area.

You can also take a fear of flying class at Shift Cognitive Therapy in Oakville, run by Dr. Ian Shulman. Click here for more information.

Click here to watch a video below of what happens during take off and landing, created by Virgin Atlantic’s “flying without fear” team.

Watch a video simulation below of sounds during take off:

Watch a video explainer of turbulence below: