It’s not just acrophobia, fear of heights. Or agoraphobia, fear of open spaces. Or even aeroacrophobia, fear of high, open spaces. It’s Aviophobia, fear of flying. Also called Aviatophobia or Pteromerhanophobia, fear of flying can literally stop someone from ever experiencing the elation of travel altogether. In other words, your fear of flying can keep you permanently grounded.
Phobias can come in varying degrees, from passing anxiety to outright psychological paralysis. Depending on the degree of your fear, it never hurts to get help from a knowledgeable friend or qualified professional, but if you feel confident enough in yourself to overcome your anxiety, there are ways to help yourself. Most recently, Dr. George Fieldman, a ‘cognitive behavioral therapist,’ hypnotherapist Jennie Francis, and the good people over at Daily Mail released an easy-to-follow guide to ease your fear about gliding through the great blue yonder.
The first and most important thing on this list, as well as on others around the web, is to concentrate on breathing during those moments of anxiety. Your mind creates a situation of stress, and your body responds by quickening the heart’s pace, releasing adrenaline, and tensing the muscles. This is a normal response to danger, but if you’re not in danger, it only exacerbates your anxiety. So if you start to feel a weight in your chest, breathe. Everything is okay.
Some people self-medicate the old-fashioned way: alcohol and drugs. While there are some prescription drugs that might help ease anxiety, you should always seek out a doctor’s advice before taking anything. And alcohol, according to Fieldman, drinking alcohol does not fix the problem, it only ‘perpetuates it.’ Problems are never treated by glossing over. To face your fears, you need to face them head on.
As with all phobias and fears, the stress is mental. You are not in immediate danger when you are flying, and if the statistics are any help, it is more dangerous to drive than it is to fly – yet you get in your car without anxiety. You can do the same thing on the plane. Francis says that you can laugh things off at the airport, breathe, tell yourself the turbulence is fun (and it can be), and educate yourself with some basic aeronautics. As it says in the article, a plane can arrive at its destination with only one engine, and it can coast for a half-an-hour in the air without any power whatsoever.
There are programs to help with your fear of flying as well. You are not the only one with these concerns, but you shouldn’t let them stop you from following your impulse to explore and see new things.