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Katharina  Star, Ph.D.

Take Steps Now to Overcome your Fear of Flying

By April 27, 2011

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With summer right around the corner, many of us have vacationing on our minds. Traveling by plane, we can quickly get to faraway places and enjoy some new adventures. However, for the millions of people who have a fear of flying, taking a flight can seem extremely difficult, if not impossible.

For some, the fear of flying (aerophobia) can be so intense that it provokes panic attacks. Despite knowing the positive statistics on safe air travel, apprehension may persist due to concerns about personal security or a strong desire to feel in control. Extreme worry may also be caused by other phobias, such as a fear of being in closed spaces (claustrophobia) or feeling afraid of heights (acrophobia).

Regardless of what specific fear is causing panic attacks, there is help for this all-too-common travel issue. For the occasional traveler,anti-anxiety medications can be beneficial by providing quick relief. These medications have a tranquilizing effect that minimizes both the physical sensations and mental associations with feeling panicked.

More frequent fliers or those seeking long-term assistance for their fear of flying may want to consider taking a class or online course that addresses this issue. These classes help in skill development along with cognitive behavioral interventions that assist in changing one's fearful thoughts and behaviors. Read more about classes, online courses, and other resources to help overcome a fear of flying. Also consider getting personal therapy by a specialist who can assist in developing ways to manage this fear.

I have personally found that being proactive in managing my flying fears has made a huge difference in my travel experiences. I find it best to plan ahead by having all of my bags packed and ready at least one day in advance and arriving early to the airport. That way I don't have additional anxiety caused by feeling rushed or unprepared. Also, I always take my prescribed medication with me even if I don't use it. I feel that it is reassuring to have it just in case, along with other comforting items, such as a neck pillow, relaxation audio guides, and plenty of reading material.

Additionally, I have found that it can be helpful to get support from others. Let your fellow travelers know that you feel nervous about flying. Sometimes just opening up about the phobia can calm my nerves and it makes me feel less worried about how others will react if I do have a panic attack. I have also let flight attendants know about my concerns, which has even led me to occasionally meet the pilots. Pilots and flight attendants understand that many people fear flying and often strive to provide a great experience.

Even though I find that traveling by plane can be a struggle, I remind myself that I love to travel and that planes can safely and efficiently get me to the places I want to go. Don't let a fear of flying spoil your travel plans this summer. Take steps today to begin to have a more enjoyable experience the next time you take a flight.

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