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Hey there Happy Travelers! Today we are bringing you a guide to help you uderstand and overcome a fear of flying. Fear of flying is really common and can seriously limit your ability to travel. Our own Happy Traveler writer Liz, posted a while back about her own issues with flying
Some people experience a fear so profound that they literally will never board an airplane. In the case of some other individuals, the level of fear is not quite as significant. Nonetheless, these individuals tend to be unable to fly without being medicated in some manner.
Understanding the fear of flying necessitates a consideration of a number of factors. Overcoming the fear of flying can take some time and effort, as well as professional intervention in some case.
Fear of Flying: Phobia or Fright
Psychologists and other medical professionals make a distinction between a rational fear and an irrational one. An irrational fear oftentimes is called a phobia by these experts and professionals.
In a nutshell, a phobia is the fear of something that in and of itself is not inherently dangerous. For example, being fearful of a loaded gun may be considered a rational fear because this type of weapon is inherently dangerous. In fact, it is intended to be so.
This line of reasoning can be extended to aircraft and flying. Airplanes in and of themselves are not inherently dangerous. Indeed, they are designed specifically to be safe modes of transport.
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders defines a phobia specifically as: "an anxiety disorder classification that represents unreasonable or irrational fear related to a specific object or situation."
Fear of flying has been the term used by laypeople and psychological and other medical professionals for decades. Some of these professionals have taken to adopting a term like aerophobia or aviophobia to denote a fear of flying.
Triggers Associated with a Fear of Flying
As is the case with other types of phobias, triggers exist that cause a person to experience an irrational fear of flying. These triggers necessarily vary somewhat from one individual to the next. However, there is a sense of commonality among these triggers experienced by people who have a fear of flying.
For some individuals, the very thought of taking a plane flight is enough to trigger anxiety and fear. On the other hand, for other people, a more concrete step towards taking an actual flight must occur as a trigger to anxiety and fear. For example, making a flight reservation may be the trigger. There are a number of people who have a phobia around flying that do not really experience symptoms until they arrive at the airport or are en route.
In addition, there are individuals who might be considered to have a more controlled fear of flying. These individuals very well may be able to board a plane and keep their anxiety and fear in check. However, if there is an unidentifiable noise in flight, actual indicative of nothing dangerous or even significant, a person could nonetheless experience a full blown irrational, fear based response to that situation.
Addressing a Fear of Flying
The least desirable way of addressing a fear of flying is to avoid flying. In the end, that represents avoidance of the issue and not addressing it directly or resolving it. However, for some people, this is the only course that seems to work for them.
As mentioned previously, there exist medications that can be helpful in controlling the symptoms associated with a fear of flying. Anti-anxiety medications are the primary types of medications used towards this end.
Psychotherapy or talk therapy represents another avenue a person with a fear of flying can take to resolve the issue, or at least attempt to do so. Indeed, there are therapists who specialize in treating phobias of different types, including an irrational fear of flying.
In some cases, an individual will be treated with medication and engage in psychotherapy as means of addressing a fear of flying.
Some individuals report that they benefit from contemplative practices like meditation or yoga. These tend to be people with a lesser degree of fear associated with flying. These individuals typically do not engage in these practices on the eve of flying but on an ongoing basis. Yoga and meditation are not practices that can have a beneficial impact on a person when done occasionally and in the short term. The positive impact of these practices tend to be accumulative over time.
When you have a very strong fear, it's hard to rationalize with statistics that show that air travel is very safe. If your fear of flying is keeping you for seeing the world and experiencing life like you'd like, now may be the time to start facing these head on.
Have you overcome a fear of flying? Let us know in the comments what's worked for you.
Thanks to our friends over at Miami Helicopter for sharing their tips on overcoming a fear of flying. And no matter where you go, don't forget to travel happy!
Hi there! I'm Skeeter. I grew up moving a lot and that makes me a bit restless for travel and exploration. I started this blog with my husband Pat when we decided to backpack New Zealand for a year. We are always looking for the next adventure and are loving life. We're just your average couple with two sassy dogs and a love for travel. We're sharing our travels and the tips we pick up along the way.
Hello! I'm Liz. Blogging is very new to me, but I'm so excited to finally write as much as I talk!
"Don't forget to travel happy"-Skeeter & Liz