If you get nervous before you fly — you’re most certainly not alone. In fact, aviophobia — the fear of flying, affects around 6.5 percent of the population. Although you may be able to avoid flying on a day-to-day basis, there may be a point in time when you need to fly for work, visit relatives, or to go on your dream vacation.
It’s understandable why so many people fear flying, as there’s little control over one’s environment and if something were to happen, there’s the fear of not being able to get out of the plane itself. If this sounds like you, no need to worry. In order to shake high stress levels, you can take these easy and effective steps.
Reducing Stress Levels While Flying
Although not everyone suffers from a full-blown phobia, it’s estimated that 25 percent of the American population suffers from nervousness before flying. In many ways, the stress you feel is exasperated by your own personal thoughts and emotions. Here’s how to tackle anxiety before your flight.
- Avoid Drinking
This is a common mistake that so many people with anxiety make — not just while flying, but within everyday life. There’s a common belief that alcohol produces a calming effect, when in reality, it makes regular drinkers more anxious. Since alcohol is a depressant, it does relax the central nervous system.
The problem is, while on a plane, if you had one or two drinks at the airport, they’re going to more than likely wear off during your flight, especially if it’s an international journey. As levels of serotonin change in the brain, symptoms of anxiety worsen. This can last for several hours, so you’re best to stick to plenty of water.
- Maintain a Positive Mindset
Remember, a lot of the emotions you personally experience are based on your own perspective. Don’t allow yourself to get overly stressed out, thinking about a range of ‘what if’ scenarios. Just stay within the moment and make the best of it. Whether you’re dealing with a delay or a missed connection, remain calm.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, don’t be shy to utilize deep breathing techniques. When you breathe in and out, taking in oxygen, you actually lower your blood pressure and reduce your heart rate. In turn, your body and mind benefit from reduced tension, relaxation, and less severe symptoms of anxiety.
- Fly with a Friend
Good company can make all the difference in a scenario like this. While traveling, select company that will not only put you at ease, but also distract you. Go on a trip with a friend that makes you laugh, allowing you to forget why you were nervous in the first place. If you’re alone, staring at the back of the seat in front of you, the flight will seem ten times longer.
- Listen to Music
Music has the ability to influence our brain — this has been seen time and time again. Although music can reduce anxiety, it has also been shown to stimulate memories among Alzheimer’s patients — pretty amazing, right? It’s been found that music links to our emotions and in turn, has the ability to soothe.
Not only will stress hormones decrease, but music can also slow your heart rate and lower blood pressure. It can also be a great distraction, helping you stay focused. The last thing you want is your mind to wander, and music is great at grabbing your attention.
Within one 2013 study, published in PloS One, it was found that music significantly affects the psychobiological stress system. When listening to music before a stressor, it had the ability to positively affect the nervous system, leading to stress-reducing effects.
If you’re ready to take your dream holiday, don’t let your fears stand in the way. On average, there are over 100,000 flights a day — so don’t allow the odd crash deter you from living and seeing the world. Practice the steps above to reduce anxiety before a flight and within your general life.