Travelling the world of moving abroad is the ultimate dream for many. However, for many wannabe expats, a fear of flying is leaving them firmly on the ground. Research has revealed that around 1 in 3 adults is either anxious to fly or afraid to fly, usually for one of the following reasons:
- Mechanical problems with the aircraft
- Flying over water
- Faults during take-off and landing
- Flying at night
- The plane crash landing
Despite there being a 1 in 11 million chance of being involved in an aeroplane incident and it being 200 times safer than driving, there are people around the world whose travel plans are completely ruled by their flying phobia.
Fear of flying usually boils down to control. Putting your life in the hands of strangers whilst 30,000 feet in the air inside a giant metal tube with wings is a huge leap of faith. Few people know how aircraft work and this is where the issue lies. Whilst few of us understand how cars work, we can at least drive them, and that gives us a level of confidence should we have an accident. The average passenger cannot fly a play nor can we hop out the door and flap our arms to get us to the ground safely.
You are more likely to be kicked to death by a donkey than anything happening to you on an aeroplane. So, how can expats manage their anxiety so that a life of travel can be experienced?
Discomfort is not danger
For those who have a fear of flying turbulence equals immediate peril. Passengers are on red alert and anxiety is at an all-time high as they begin to question the structural integrity of the plane and pray it isn’t going down.
When frightened, the human brain sometimes recognises discomfort as danger. Whilst turbulence is uncomfortable it is not dangerous and the plane isn’t going to fall apart. Reading about turbulence and understanding the science behind it can be particularly helpful for flyers who really struggle when the journey gets a little bumpy.
Talk to the cabin crew
Never feel as if you are a nuisance by talking to the cabin crew. Straight up announcing to the greeter when you board the aircraft that you have a fear of flying is a great way to set yourself at ease as they will usually keep a special eye on you throughout the journey. You need to remember, they do this all day every day of their own free choice!
At Heathrow airport in the UK, a flight leaves the runway every 45 seconds. That’s countless people choosing to make a career out of life in the sky. They are the experts and asking them what a particular sound is or why the plane is doing a certain action will go a long way in quelling your anxiety.
Water is your friend
Whilst some of us use medication or alcohol as ways to calm our nerves before and during flights, they often actually intensify the problem. One glass of wine in the sky equals two on the ground due to the altitude and low humidity. Whilst you may be able to snooze for a little while, you could wake up with elevated fear, resulting in more wine, and the cycle continues.
Sticking to water and fruit juices is best for flights. Eating little and often and treating yourself to your favourite snacks will also help keep your mind clear and occupied whilst you’re in the sky. Keeping your blood sugar level in check is also helpful for keep anxiety in check as much as possible.
One major thing to envisage when flying is the end result. Whether this is seeing far-flung family or lounging on a tropical beach all week; the passion for your exciting plans will 100% outweigh your fear. Having a key thought is a good focussing trick; envisage that first sip of cocktail on your hotel balcony with your loved one. Think about how that will taste, smell and feel. When anxiety strikes go back to this moment.
Furthermore, learning relaxation and distraction techniques are great ways to bring your heart rate down when year fear is escalating. Channelling into the in-flight entertainment, talking with fellow passengers and listening to music are great for keeping your mind occupied. Focusing upon deep breaths in through the nose and slowly out through the mouth will also help you decrease your heart rate if you are getting anxious.