February 17, 2014 (Scottsdale, AZ)
Some people get a little nervous before they get on an airplane, but others, really fear flying and suffer from major anxiety with just the thought of having to get on an airplane for business or pleasure.
Former Super Bowl winning head coach and football personality John Madden is well known for his fear of flying which began in the 1970’s when he suffered a panic attack while flying commercially. Since then he takes trains and buses to travel throughout the country. This extreme fear of flying is most commonly referred to as Aviatophobia. Aviatophobia is defined, simply, as a fear of flying. It is also referred to as aviophobia, aerophobia or pteromechanophobia. People who suffer from aviatophobia become anxious and stressed at the thought of traveling by air. Symptoms include sweating, heavy breathing, dizziness, nausea, dry mouth, tremors or shaking, anxiety and panic attacks.
So why do people suffer from this debilitating phobia? Many times this fear is a symptom of other phobias. People may feel claustrophobic (fear of confined places) in an airplane or might be scared of heights (Acrophobia). Some people fear flying over water or at night or in bad weather.
A big fear for some is flight turbulence. We’ve probably all experienced some of that before. All of a sudden it feels bumpy and the plane can feel like it dropped a little. Then the pilot comes on the intercom and says to return to your seats and buckle up. This can cause real panic for some. If you’re one of the many that is truly panicked by turbulence, you may want to consider these tips for helping you cope with it better. Try getting a seat by the wing and against the window of the jet. This helps in two ways. One, the center of mass is where the wings are, so you’ll feel less turbulence there. Two, you’ll feel safer with a window next to you. Also, when the flight crew says to buckle up, do so. Another suggestion is to learn about turbulence ahead of time by reading about it online.
One of the best things that you can do if you feel panicked during flight is to practice breathing techniques. When you start to panic your breathing speeds up or you may even hold your breath and not be aware of it. Try to be conscious of this and practice taking slow deep breaths. You can also try meditating by closing your eyes, relax all your muscles and focus on slow, deep breathing and try to think of positive thoughts. Try envisioning a vessel that you’re putting all of your negative thoughts into and watch it sail down a stream or envision digging down through the earth, through layers of soil, then bedrock, deeper down to where you see fire at the center of the earth. There you’ll leave your negative feelings. You get the idea. There are many great books and CD’s on meditation on Amazon.
There are natural herbs that help with anxiety too and may be useful for helping you with your aviatophobia. They can be found at heath food stores, but always consult your doctor first to make sure they don’t interfere with any medications you’re taking.
Of course, if your fear is not being treated by any of these home remedies, you could always consult a therapist. Therapists could help you overcome your fears by using relaxation techniques, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and even hypnosis. So, if you suffer from aviatophobia, don’t worry, you’re not alone and there are many great ways to overcome it. Flying is really quite safe and fun.