Sunday, 13 September 2015

Tackling A Fear Of Flying

A view from a plane during a flight to Rome
A view from a plane during a flight to Rome
'Never surrender to fear as it will steal your life'

In all honesty, this post has been a long time coming, and I couldn't think of a more appropriate time to share it with you all having just come back from my trip to Rome.

Whenever I tell somebody that I'm petrified of flying, their first response always seems to be 'nothing is going to happen to you' or 'you have more chance of a car crash than a plane accident'. People don't seem to understand that a fear of flying isn't always determined by worrying that it will crash.  I don't quite know where my fear came from, but it is more of a nervousness, made far worse by the lead up to a holiday or the long waits in an airport before boarding the plane.  My fear of flying has come pretty close to ruining holidays in the past as I can never be fully excited for a trip until my plane has landed safely at the other end.  And that being said, I'm then already worrying about the return flight home.  It's a constant battle.

Over the past few years, I have grown a lot more confident with flying as I have developed my own coping methods for before/during the flight and I hope that a few of my tips below will help any of you like-minded nervous flyers too.

1. Set up a great iTunes playlist.  This step is a must for me.  A few years ago, before going off on our first holiday together, my boyfriend Alex bought me an iPod Touch and a pair of Skullcandy headphones to distract me during the journey.  A week before I jet off anywhere, I always revisit my iTunes library and set up a playlist to distract me during takeoff and throughout the rest of the flight.  My headphones are brilliant for blocking out noise and one of the key parts of the flight that sends my anxiety levels soaring is the noise of the engine preparing for takeoff.  Most flights now allow you to listen to headphones during takeoff, once all of the safety announcements have finished, so music is an excellent distraction.  I still have no idea why, but I always listen to Million Voices - Otto Knows or Only Love - Ben Howard on take off.  It's become a routinely thing for me on every flight and always helps to calm me down.  I will usually play the pair of them on loop until the seatbelt light goes off.

2. Purchase a magazine or a new book.  Along with my music, I'm always equipped with several fashion magazines (Look is always a winner) or a book when boarding the flight.  During takeoff, I tend to skim read my magazines as I'm too distractible to focus.  Once the seatbelt light has disappeared, I then start back over and have a proper read.

3. Read 'Flying with Confidence'.  A little while ago now, my Mum bought me Flying with Confidence, which is curated by British Airways.  It's designed for any nervous flyers to attempt to combat fear.  Throughout the book, they discuss what each motion/noise means at various points throughout the flight and go into detail about what happens at specific points of the journey.  I for one used to panic whenever the engine would suddenly become a lot quieter after takeoff and this book explains what is happening at this point, and much, much more.  I tested myself by reading this before one of my frequent short trips to France and it really gave me a greater understanding of the various stages of the flight.

4. Pay a little extra for a specific seat.  One of the worst things for me is checking in online the night before a trip and realising my flight seats aren't exactly where I would have personally chosen to sit, had the choice been available to me.  For a little extra, you can pay to choose where you would like to sit prior to your journey.  Wherever possible, I will always choose a window seat as I like to watch the entire journey from start to finish - this way I can also tell that any little bump during the journey, no matter how turbulent it may seem, really is nothing to worry about.

5. Wear comfy clothing.  For me, leggings and sandals are the perfect choice, teamed with a baggy tee.  There is nothing worse than wearing tight footwear or having a tight waistband during the flight, in my opinion.  Along with this, also lay out your 'plane outfit' the night before to save any unnecessary wardrobe drama on the day of the flight.

6. Tell somebody if you feel anxious.  Cabin crew will have experienced all sorts of passengers and I can guarantee you that you are not the first nervous passenger that they will have encountered.  Before taking off on my flight to Portugal a few years ago, I was a nervous wreck.  I told the cabin crew that I was an anxious flyer and they checked up on me throughout the flight to make sure I was okay.  It's okay to be nervous and this reassured me of it.

I still have a long way to go in terms of conquering my flight anxiety but I like to think I'm getting to grips with it.  I hope the above tips may help if any of you are nervous flyers too.

Do you suffer from a fear of flying?  What do you do to calm your nerves?
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