• Take a walk anywhere that stirs your curiosity. If I can get to the airport early, or get in a workout before leaving home, it helps to reduce the adrenalin surging through my body when it’s time to get on the plane. I think of it as burning off my fear reserves and refueling my pleasure tank. Walking helps to lower the stress hormone cortisol while increasing the release of feel-good endorphins. This helps balance my emotions when its time to strap in low and tight.2. 30 Mins – 1 Hour Before Takeofff
• Stay occupied until the moment you get in line for boarding. I only allow myself to do things that are fun, like playing games on my phone app or Ipad, texting a friend, or shopping in the airport store. These are all easy to do in the airport. Notice, I didn’t say, “Don’t think about flying.” When you do things you find enjoyable, it will naturally draw your attention away from the fear of getting on the airplane. (For more on why this works, see my post, “Anxiety: It’s About Control”)3. While on the plane before taking off
• Pick at least one flight attendant to focus on. I watch her for signs of fear and I have yet to see any—ever. Then I talk to myself, saying something like, “She/he flies about 70 hours per month and the job requires between 2-14 lift offs/landings per shift. If she is going to reach retirement from this work, it means she expects to live to collect the money, and when it’s all done, she’ll have survived 1000’s of these trips without crashing. The same is true for the pilot.” So my chances of dying on this flight today are lower than getting run over by a car crossing the street in Goldsboro, North Carolina.
4. After take off, as soon as it’s safe to use my portable devices
• The time has come to let go and let God. I turn on the most relaxing music I can get on my MP3 (aka my phone). I prefer Liquid Mind because it was developed by composer, Chuck Wild, as a natural treatment for anxiety. Then I close my eyes, let out a long, slow exhale and enjoy the moment.
If you can practice this 4-step anxiety-relieving ritual on successive trips, you will increase your chances of becoming desensitized to a flying phobia. This is just a fancy way of saying, you won’t feel so scared on a plane anymore.
We are not done yet. Some of you may be surprised to know that there are two parts to this phobia, the fear of flying and the fear of crashing. In my next post I’ll talk about the crashing.