Up in the Air: Tips for Managing Flight Anxiety

If the idea of flying stresses you out, you’re not the only one. Many travelers experience some form of flight anxiety. While someone could tell you numerous times that flying is one of the safest modes of transportation, it can be hard to shake the feeling that something could go wrong during your flight.

But there are some things you can do to ease your anxiety and make flying a more enjoyable experience.

Here are a few tips.

Pick seats strategically.

If you get nervous during turbulence, be careful with your seat selections. It might be a good idea to avoid seats near the wings of the plane. These seats typically experience more turbulence than other parts of the plane. Sitting closer to the front of the plane is your best bet. This area is usually less bumpy than the back. You also have the added bonus of getting off the plane faster once you land. It may cost you a little more to sit in the front, but if turbulence bothers you, it’s worth it.

Get up and move around.

If you start feeling anxious, try to get up and move around. Walking up and down the aisle can help ease your anxiety. It also helps to stretch your legs to avoid cramping. If you’re able, take a trip to the bathroom. This will allow you to take deep breaths and relax for a few minutes. Just be sure to stay buckled when the seat belt sign is on.

Familiarize yourself with airplane noises.

Being unfamiliar with the noises during your flight could lead to believing something is wrong. Knowing what sounds planes make during takeoff, landing, and in-flight can ease your fears. If it’s more comforting, bring noise-canceling headphones to block out the noise.

Distract yourself.

The less time you spend focusing on everything that could go wrong, the better. Play games, read a book, or watch a few free movies! Distractions work: the key is using things you’re already used to. It’s like a comfort blanket for your mind.

Practice breathing exercises.

You may feel like you can’t catch your breath when you start to panic. This only adds to the feeling of anxiety. Learning some deep breathing exercises before your flight can help you calm down if you start to feel panicky. 

Visualizing your destination

Remember the reason you’re taking this trip in the first place. Visualize what you’re going to do once you get off the plane and focus on your destination and plans. The idea is to take your mind off what’s making you nervous and placing your attention on all you have to look forward to.

Watch the flight attendants.

If you’re feeling anxious, it may help to watch the flight attendants. They are trained professionals and know what to do in an emergency. Better yet, they’d be the first to know if something was wrong with the plane. If they appear calm, everything is likely okay.

Skip coffee and wine

Having a glass of wine to ease your nerves before your flight may sound like a good idea, but it’s not. Drinking alcohol before a flight can make your anxiety worse. The same goes for coffee. Having coffee and alcohol at a higher altitude can leave you feeling dehydrated and jittery and amplify your feelings of anxiousness during the flight. Instead, opt for lots of water and a light meal to keep you feeling nourished.

Talk to Your physician.

If you have a fear of flying that prevents you from taking the vacation of your dreams, it may be time to talk to your doctor. They can prescribe a medication or suggest a natural supplement to help ease your anxiety or help you sleep through the flight. This is usually a last resort, but if nothing else is working, it may be worth considering.

Don’t forget to relax.

Flying can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. Take some time to de-stress before your flight. This will help you feel more relaxed and better prepared to deal with any anxiety that may come up. Try things like yoga, meditation, or even just taking a few minutes to yourself to clear your mind.

There’s a big, beautiful world out there and seeing it requires getting on a plane for many hours at a time. Long flights can be daunting, but if you follow the tips above, you’ll be able to relax and enjoy the experience. Who knows, you might even find that you enjoy flying!