I make no secret my fear of heights. Acrophobia is what it’s called. The higher I am, the more nervous and anxious I become. And if I can see how high in the sky I am, it gets pretty rough. So as you can imagine, flying from destination to destination is quite the trip for me.
I don’t think I was always this way. I have no memories as a child or teenager having any issue in a plane. In fact, I was pretty darn stoked to fly long distance because it meant a longer visit in a massive metal tube that somehow uses science to do something that mere mortals cannot do on their own. Yet here I am approaching my mid-aged years fearing my very being every time I set foot on a plane.
So how do I deal with it?
1. Get Smart – this has helped me the most. Whether it’s learning the science behind flight itself, watching shows that explain what goes on during flight up in the cockpit, or even watching something like Mayday (I know, sounds strange right?) where they explain how a past issue is now resolved due to the investigation, understanding that I’m using a statistically significant form of transportation sets me at ease.
2. Distract Yourself – notice how time seems to fly (pun intended) when you’re distracted? This helps expedite your time on the plane and keeps your mind from wandering to the dark place. Bring a book or magazines and engross yourself in the story. Load up your tablet or computer with entertainment and partake in a visual experience. Or use the entertainment system on the plane if you’re lucky to have access one.
3. Sit Near the Wings – think of the plane as a teeter-totter. If you sit on one end or the other, you will experience more of that seesaw effect, while sitting at the wing is similar to sitting at the fulcrum. Some of my more interesting flights had me sitting at the back of the plane and I can’t say I’ve experienced such… fun… sitting near the wings.
4. Sleep – if you can do this while flying, it’s often one of the best ways to make your trip as painless as possible. Plus you avoid hearing all the noises, feeling all the bumps, and constant questions running through your mind about what the flight crew knows that you don’t.
5. Relax– the use relaxation techniques to overcome anxiety is an extremely effective tool. Some find deep, controlled breathing exercises work. Breathe in deeply, hold it for five seconds, exhale deeply. Rinse and repeat. Others use essential oils like peppermint or lavender, though getting these oils through security might be a trick, let alone how they might impact travelers around you. What I try to do is simply wear comfortable clothing while on the plane, loose-fitting shoes or slippers, and stretch out where possible. Sure the shrinking seat width & pitch is an issue, but what you wear can still go a long way.
So those are a few of my tips and tricks to getting myself from point A to B on a plane.
Do you share the same fear of flying? What tactics work for you? And what doesn’t? Tell us more in the comments below.