HEALTH

How to overcome aerophobia, or the fear of flying

Aerophobia, synonymous with aviation phobia or simply fear of flying, is certainly one of the most widespread and common phobias in the world. 

The causes may stem from a particular trauma related to flying, but in most cases it has no precise origin other than unfamiliarity and lack of experience with the medium. Unfortunately, people with this phobia often forego important journeys, thinking of their family members, perhaps their colleagues, as well as themselves. Some manage to take their fear in their hands and fly anyway, others just can't do it.

There are, however, some techniques, and some things one can do before, during and after the flight to try to overcome this fear.

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The fear of flying
Aerophobia, synonymous with aviation phobia or simply fear of flying, is certainly one of the most widespread and common phobias in the world. Unfortunately, people with this phobia often forego important trips, thinking of their family members, perhaps their colleagues, as well as themselves. Some manage to take their fear in their hands and fly anyway, while others just can't do it.
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Where does this phobia come from
Speaking on this topic is Dr Valeria Fiorenza Perris, psychotherapist and clinical director of the online psychology service 'Unobravo'. Often, she argues, the fear of flying is merely a lack of familiarity with the medium, a lack of experience, or simply the fact of not being in control of it. In other cases, however, this phobia might develop as a result of a stressful or traumatic event of another nature, such as a bereavement, separation, relocation or new job responsibilities. In this case, the body's stress is expressed through the medium of the aircraft.
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How aerophobia manifests itself
The physical manifestations of this type of phobia are very common to all other phobias. They can range from feelings of anxiety to hot flushes and from sweating and shortness of breath to full-blown panic attacks. In addition, so-called stimulation of the vestibular, visual and proprioceptive apparatus can also occur, leading to various unpleasant sensations.
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Pre-flight advice
First of all, to overcome the fear of flying, it is useful to read up on how a plane works, especially during take-off and landing. Some useful tips can be diaphragmatic breathing, the mindfulness technique, meditation, as well as listening to relaxing music. Also, it would be best to avoid alcohol and caffeine before a flight if you have a fear of flying, preferring water or relaxing herbal teas instead.
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What to do during the flight
First of all, it is good to realise that a plane is probably the safest means of transport in the world, much safer than other common means of transport such as cars and mopeds. During the flight, the key thing to avoid panic is to keep your mind occupied with activities of various kinds, such as reading a book, listening to music, watching a film or chatting with other passengers. Asking the flight crew for help in case of anxiety is also good advice, as the crew is highly trained to deal with emergency situations.
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Seeking help from a professional
Psychotherapy is certainly something very useful if one wants to reduce the fear associated with flying. Specifically, cognitive-behavioural therapy is one of the most common and widely used approaches to combat aerophobia, as it can help the patient restructure irrational airplane-related beliefs, learn anxiety management techniques and cope with feared situations through gradual exposure to scenarios reminiscent of the aeroplane experience.
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19/04/2024
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