Have a fear of flying? You’ve landed at the right place. Here, you’ll discover lots of tips on how to avoid anxiety attacks while flying, and all without the use of drugs.
The fear of flying is very common. And the fear can be so intense that many people just don’t fly if they can help it. Of, course there are others who need to fly for business reasons, and others for more personal reasons, such as not wanting to let the family down on holiday trips, etc.
There are medications that can be taken before a flight to try to help calm the nerves and lower anxiety on takeoff and during the flight. But some of these can have some side effects, and in any case, many people just don’t like taking these kind of drugs.
But there are natural ways to avoid anxiety attacks while flying that you can implement to help make your flight stress and anxiety free. To understand how these can work, it’s worth looking at what causes anxiety attacks in the first place.
What Causes Anxiety Attacks
Anxiety attacks are the physical and mental manifestation of your body’s primeval ‘fight or flight’ response to a ‘perceived’ physical threat to itself. Your body only needs to ‘think’ there is a threat, and it’ll trigger chemical changes around your body that set you up to be better able to fight against an aggressor or run away to safety.
But there is no physical threat is there? Remember I said it only needs to ‘think’ there’s one. And this perception can be simply through your own anxiety levels rising, through your fear of flying, to such an extent that your subconscious reads that as being the ‘threat’ and so triggers the fight or flight response.
When this happens, the changes in your body, to instantly prepare you to stand and fight or run away, manifest as the symptoms of an anxiety attack; rapid breathing, racing heartbeat, tightness in the chest, hot / cold flashes, tingling in hands, nausea, a feeling of detachment, a feeling of impending doom, etc.
You can see, then, that anxiety attack symptoms are just the result of your body’s natural response to something that doesn’t exist. In other words, you aren’t in any danger, and these symptoms cannot harm you. It is all a big mistake!
You need to reduce the stress and anxiety that you build up within yourself before the flight. Because it’s your very fear of having an anxiety attack during the flight that will trigger the anxiety attack. You see, your fear of an attack builds upon your already (natural) high stress and anxiety, that nearly everyone has prior to travelling, particularly when flying.
But most people don’t suffer anxiety attacks when flying, so don’t have that in-built fear of one. But folks – perhaps like yourself – who do suffer anxiety attacks, do have this fear, and it builds on your naturally heightened travel anxiety to trigger an anxiety attack.
How to Avoid Anxiety Attacks When Flying
Okay, you now understand what causes your attacks, so how do you avoid anxiety attacks when flying, without drug-based medication?.
The following are practical things you can do to help prevent your general anxiety levels rising too much when travelling by air:-
(1) When planning your trip, make a checklist of all documents you need and tick them off. Also, anything else you need to do, tick those off as you do them. Ensure you’re aware of any luggage or other restrictions. Make sure you tick off everything as you do them, so that you don’t need to worry like ‘did I switch off the…’ and ‘did I cancel the…’ type issues.
(2) Make sure you keep all your documents safe and for easy access. Arrange to get to the airport check-in in plenty of time. That way you can be through and have plenty of time to relax in the lounge.
(3) Don’t drink alcohol before or during the flight. It might be tough, I know, but alcohol is a known stimulant so can actually raise your general anxiety levels, making it easier for your ‘fear’ of an attack to trigger one.
(4) In the same way don’t drink too much coffee, tea, fizzy drinks, energy drinks, etc., because they contain the stimulant caffeine.
(5) Do drink lots and lots of water before and during your flight in order to stay well-hydrated.
Next, the following are techniques to follow should you feel an anxiety attack coming on:-
(1) Important! At the onset, repeat to yourself words along the lines of ‘I know what this is now, and, I know that these symptoms cannot harm me. I also know that they will pass very shortly. Go on do your worst!’
(2) Breath slowly and rhythmically, not fast and shallow. And not too deeply either. Breath in through the nose and out through your mouth. You do this to re-balance your carbon dioxide / oxygen ratio.
(3) Use ‘distraction’ to take your focus off of your attack. Try to engage in conversation, read a magazine, listen to music, study a particular facet of the aircraft cabin, etc. Close your eyes and think of a particularly peaceful / happy event in the past and replay it in your mind, over and over again.
You Must Break the Vicious Cycle of Anxiety
The tips above can be very effective in controlling anxiety attacks when flying. But you need to get to a position where you won’t even worry about flying and anxiety attacks anymore. How can you do this? You achieve this by eliminating your fear of always having anxiety attacks every time you fly.
It’s not the flight that is worrying you, it’s the fear of having an attack whilst flying. This is a vicious cycle of general anxiety >> fear of an attack >> an attack >> general anxiety >> fear of an attack >> an attack >> and so on, and on. You must break-out of this cycle to achieve your goal.