How to get over fear of flying anxiety

You start dreading the flight long before the time finally arrives. The familiar pit in your stomach and anxious thoughts remind you of impending doom and worst-case scenarios every time you think about the up-coming trip. If you experience flight anxiety, whether it’s mild or intense anxiety, keep reading to learn how to get over fear of flying anxiety!

It was a summer day in 2016 – I didn’t sleep well and woke up with fear curdling in my stomach as I pulled on my leggings and oversized long sleeve t-shirt. I’d checked the weather app too many times in hopes that we would have normal weather patterns, as I considered myself a fair weather flyer at best!

The ride to the airport was miserable and as soon as I started hearing and seeing the planes as we approached the airport the nausea set in. I tried my deep breathing techniques but that only made my breath more shallow and my anxiety increase.  I can’t carry on a conversation, I can’t eat. I’m shaky and counting down the minutes until it’s over. The tears begin and won’t shut off as I’m trying to tell myself to remain calm. I’m in full-blown panic attack mode as I board the plane. And it’s like this every single time I fly.

There is turbulence… The plane bounces down, you know the feeling, that you are actually falling out of the sky…

I’m in the middle seat and firmly grab the thigh of the person to my left (the poor guy was shocked!) and the thigh of my mom to my right in sheer terror, knowing my biggest fear is about to happen…

After this, my mom told me she would never fly with me again.

Fast forward 7 years and now I can look forward to flying without the anxiety! I can drive to the airport without any impending doom. I can get on the plane and ‘feel’ fine with NO flight anxiety!

I’ve tried it all, anti-anxiety medication, trying a new breathing technique, meeting the pilot briefly when I board, attempting to watch videos on fear of flying prior to the flight, and positive affirmations. You name it, I’ve tried it, anything to experience less anxiety was the goal!

Here are some tips that continue to help me overcome my fear of flying , and hopefully you can try one of them and it will help calm your anxiety on your next flight. It’s a journey, none of this happens overnight. But over time you’ll be flying like a pro.

Air Travel is a Privilege

Think back to the days when air travel became available to the public, it was an EVENT! It was the most exciting part of the trip, it wasn’t just a means to an end. You wore your best outfit (next tip), you took photos, and you felt like a million bucks! You were so lucky to get to travel. No one wore their pj’s or sweatpants (guilty as charged🙋‍♀️).

We were driving to Ft. Lauderdale to catch a plane to Barbados for our honeymoon, the first flight Scott and I had ever taken together. He knew I’d had terrible flying anxiety and he had heard alllll the stories. He started talking about how he believes that travel is a privilege. He spoke about how lucky we are to take a plane to a new destination and how so many people in the world rarely or never have the option to travel. Traveling really is a privilege and it played a huge part in my mindset shift, I had never considered this before!

Dress for the occasion

It’s Plane Day! Wear your favorite outfit. Fix your hair. Put on makeup if you usually wear it. Look your best so you can feel your best! Pick out your outfit in advance! Try it on, get it ironed, and hang it in your closet in anticipation.  I no longer throw on my yoga pants or sweatpants in anticipation of crying all morning, I’m going to glide through the airport like I own the plane!

Read more>>> Travel Packing Hacks: 5 Tips To Maximize Space And Minimize Stress!

Bring Water and a light snack

Nothing can trigger my anxiety more than feeling hot in a confined space and having no water! The same goes for snacks! If my stomach is hungry it can easily be confused with anxiety. You have to set yourself up for success!! Bring a refillable water bottle or buy a big bottle of water when you get through security to take on the plane.

You’re Not Alone!

The National Institute of Mental Health states about 6.5 percent of the population have a fear of flying and almost 25 percent experience flying-related anxiety disorder.

Noise Cancelling Headphones are a game changer!

One of the things that give me flight anxiety the most are all the weird airplane noises, the dinging bell in the cabin, the sound of the engine, and just like a driver in a car, sometimes the pilot speeds up and slows down and I hate not only the sound but also the pressure in my ears!

With these headphones, it cuts the noise and eases the air pressure to make for a much smoother experience. Put them on before taking off with your favorite tunes!!

After trying tons of headphones, these are our top 3 picks! *Affiliate links below

Distract Yourself during the flight

Download funny movies on your device! Laughing is the best medicine, especially on a plane. When you’re engrossed in a movie and laughing you get out of your own head and your body can relax!

Most planes usually have movies but if you are prepared in advance with your own device you never have to worry about the plane not having a screen on the back of the headrest.

Choose your seat in advance

First class isn’t always an option but sitting closer to the front of the plane if possible has its advantages. It allows you to board sooner and get settled, the sooner you are on board the better chance you have of finding plenty of space for all of your carry-on luggage in the overhead compartments. Also, it feels like a smoother ride the closer you are to the front of the plane, but maybe that’s all a made-up story in my head! Sometimes the aisle seat of a middle row on a long flight can be your best option!

Do your research on Airplane safety statistics

You are more likely to die from a dog bite than a plane crash! Car accidents are far more common than plane crashes! The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) data states that there’s a one in 11-million chance of being involved in an airplane accident, and of those, 96 percent of passengers survive airline accidents!

Planes work. Rigorous safety measures are taken and they undergo extensive testing like wing flexibility, temperature and altitude testing, and even tests for lightening and low fuel situations! In addition, if you consider the maintenance schedules for commercial planes, you might agree that you’re safer in a plane than in your own house!

I used to take a fear of flying course every single time before flying. It taught me all about the sounds of the plane, one cabin ding when we take off and have wheels off the ground. One cabin ding when we are at 10k feet and can use our electronic devices and drink service will start soon, 30 min before our landing time I’m going to feel the first change in cabin pressure from the plane starting to descend… all of these things I still remember today but no longer need to take the course. 

Remember this:

Turbulence on an airplane is like bumps in the road for an automobile.
According to pilots and crew, turbulence is a nuisance, not a danger!

Being nice to flight attendants goes a long way!

It’s okay to let a flight attendant know you are anxious and afraid!

They will check in on you during the flight. As soon as I got on the plane I used to ask to meet the pilot briefly before flying. On one flight we experienced a lot of turbulence and the pilot came over the speaker and actually called me by name and said ‘We are experiencing some bumps but all is okay, Lindsey’! So sweet! 

It’s helpful if you can pinpoint when your flight anxiety started

Have you always been a nervous flier? Was there a specific flight that was bad for you and now there are triggers whenever you think of flying? Having this knowledge helps you find support for your fears and lets you know that it doesn’t always have to be that way.

Bottom Line

None of these suggestions are a quick fix, but if you are an anxious flier I hope you can find some calm from these tips to overcome your flying anxiety.

Looking out the plane window when you are above the clouds without fear is an amazing feeling. You can go anywhere! 


Similar Posts