Are the days of flying friendly skies gone forever? After Asiana Flight 214 and Southwest Flight 345 both crash landed in July, tension is high on flights across the globe – particularly among those of us who already suffer from flight anxiety.
The fear is illogical, if you look at statistics. A 2013 Huffington Post article reported that Arnold Barnett – a professor of statistics at M.I.T. – said the death risk for passengers in the United States is about one in 45 million flights. According to the Barnett, a traveler could take a flight every single day for roughly 123,000 years before being involved in a fatal crash.
Even so, a 2007 New York Times article claimed that up to 40 percent of adults still experience anxiety when flying.
Psychologists recommend visualization techniques to cope with aerophobia, the official term for fear of flying. Visualizing a lover’s face, a nursing baby, or a tropical beach are common relaxation techniques – but they’ve never worked for me.
As someone who has traveled frequently, I’ve learned my own coping techniques for enduring flights. Although I still hate flying, utilizing these tricks have made my trips more manageable:
- Take a small dose of Ativan an hour before your flight. This mild sedative can make you slightly drowsy, but it also works wonders to take the edge off. Consult with your doctor to receive a prescription for Ativan before your flights.
- If you don’t want to take a sedative, order a drink on the flight. A glass of beer or wine usually sells for $7 or less – and it is worth every penny to calm the nerves. I stick to one glass so that I can stay conscious and alert. However, do not mix sedatives and alcohol – this can be a dangerous mix.
- If you’re convinced that the person next to you is a terrorist, try striking up a conversation with that person. Ask them where they are traveling, who they are visiting, and what they are reading. I’ve even been known to stand in line for the bathroom next to a “suspicious” individual, only so that I could converse with that person. It helps to know that the person is on his way to visit his 90-year-old grandmother in Nebraska.
- On small planes where the pilot’s chambers are visible, do not sit too close to the front. Your aerophobic mind is more likely to obsess over beeping noises, flashing buttons, and images of the plane plunging dramatically into the clouds.
- Fly with a companion. Talking with someone you trust throughout the flight will prevent your mind from wandering. Your friend or family member will help you stay grounded, and comfort you when anxiety flares up.
- Bring reading material, DVDs, music – anything to occupy your brain. I prefer fashion magazines and celebrity gossip magazines which are easy to digest.
- Keep repeating to yourself that every second, flights are landing successfully all over the world.
- If I start to become afraid, I take long, deep breaths and try to remember that my physical body is only a shell for my spirit. I believe that when I die, my spirit will transcend my physical form – it will never shatter. Whatever your beliefs, keep your faith close to your heart, and surrender your control. When it’s your time, it’s your time – and there’s nothing you can do about it.