Traveling is one of the most desirable things to experience. Humans are meant to explore and now that we have social media and other forms of media to show us what is out there, most of us crave to experience it. I am one of those people.
In order to get to further places from home, it requires taking a plane. I am okay with any form of transportation except a plane. I have a fear of flying when I really have no reason to. Anxiety is mysterious, but taking the initiative to understand it and how to cope with it is what I need to do so I am able to live out the dream of traveling. On a side note, I live states away from my family; therefore, I don’t have much of a choice. I need to fly.
I have googled articles and watched multiple videos on how to get over my fear of anxiety, but it only helped so much. I can watch 100s of videos, but truly the best way to take on fear is doing it. I know this is cliche, but hear me out.
Do you notice that most people don’t fear being in a car? Unless you have been in a traumatic accident, there is a good chance that you are okay with being in a car. The reason for that is because we drive and transport in a car almost every single day as well as multiple times a day. Our brains are familiar with it so we don’t get anxious. If you are the driver, you feel even less scared because you are the one who is in control of the car. When we are on a plane, we have to trust a stranger to safely get us to our destination. Unless your work takes you out of state or you are rich and can travel whenever you want, you most likely aren't on a plane too often. The average person flies 6.5 flights a year which can average 3–4 trips a year if you are doing roundtrips. This would be around every 4 months. Because of COVID, I am sure those numbers have dropped. My point is — flying isn’t a routine for most people; therefore, people who struggle with anxiety will be more prone to plane anxiety.
Another thing that can feed the fear of flying is watching movies about tragedies that involve a plane crash. The movie that fed into my fear was the first Final Destination movie. The plane did not necessarily “crash” into anything, but the plane blew up during taking off and that is why the taking off part of the flight is the scariest for me.
Turbulence is also not my best friend. Turbulence triggers fear because the plane shakes and bounces back and forth making me believe that it will drop. The best advice I received to help with my turbulence fear was to compare it to a pothole on the road. When your car hits a pothole, it has a dramatic shake. We get startled for a moment, but we don’t ride in a car fearing that we are going to go over a pothole.
Remember when I said that there are some people out there that travel so often? Most likely you will have some of them on your flight — take a look closely at their body language. If you start experiencing anxiety during scary turbulence moments, look around and see how everyone is reacting. If no one is screaming and crying then you are safe. If you have a flight attendant nearby, watch them. Their reaction to turbulence is the best indicator that nothing is wrong and that your anxiety is lying to you.
I am very lucky that I have a friend who is a flight attendant. I reached out to him about my concerns with flying and he said that flight attendants are trained to comfort passengers who are feeling anxious. For me personally, I have some social anxiety, but if you don’t then be friendly with the flight attendant. We underestimate the role of a flight attendant. A lot of us think they are just there to provide us food and beverage, but they are there to literally “attend” to you. They are strangers but remember part of their job is to make you feel safe and comfortable.
The annual risk of being killed in a plane crash for the average American is about 1 in 11 million. In reality, nothing in this world is perfect, but statistically, flying is very close to it.
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