What happens to you when you get on a plane? Do you walk calmly to your seat and enjoy the flight? Or do you agonise about the journey for days beforehand, become all hot and sweaty at the boarding gate, then have a full blown panic attack when the plane starts to taxi up the runway? If you fall in the latter category, you're not alone. Around 35% of people are 'nervous flyers' with about 5% having severe panic attacks so bad that they will not even set foot on a plane.
A fear of flying can be called many things including aerophobia and aviophobia. Not only that but it can actually be a combination of several phobias like the fear of small spaces, the fear of heights and the fear of crowds. Due to the nature of the different combinations it can be hard to treat a common cause for flight phobia though there are some products out there that try and seem to have a high success rate.
Life can be miserable for those who suffer from a severe flying phobia and sufferers tend to be extremely embarrassed about their problem, refusing to talk about it with friends and family. This social withdrawal and isolation from not being able to take part in family holiday can cause a lot of stress in a person and make them feel low.
There are a few tricks you can try to try to get over your fear of flying. Firstly, try to think back to the first time you ever suffered a reaction to flying. Did something happen on that day or on the flight that upset you? Are you normally afraid of enclosed spaces or of large crowds of people? Visualization can be a great tool to helping you overcome your fears.
In the weeks building up to a flight, try to take half an hour out of your day to relax and close your eyes. Breathe deeply in and out, imagining yourself to be on a plane – warm, happy and safe. Do this for about 30 minutes a day, it's all about tricking your mind into changing its ways. You want to change your subconscious way of thinking about flying and force your mind to accept that it is a pleasant experience! The more severe your phobia, the more time you should do this before a flight. If you are utterly terrified and vomit even at the thought of going on a plane you may have to do this for a bit longer.