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How not to be afraid to fly an airplane: tips for defeating aerophobia


Ahead of summer vacation, which is often associated with flights. Behind - the terrible plane crashes of recent years, which provoke more and more phobias in people. What to do if you are afraid to fly, but do not want to cancel your vacation with children? Psychologist Larisa Surkova offers to work with her fear.

Against the backdrop of recent world events, the theme of flights causes widespread panic. This can be dealt with by adopting the measures described here. I tested their effectiveness on myself and dozens of clients who applied for help. I happened to stop someone else's panic even on board an airplane. What I am writing about is sometimes not enough, but in 85% of cases this will help those who will be flying in the coming days.

It is important to understand first of all: fear is normal. It is also normal that with the birth of a child the number of your fears increases, as the need for self-preservation increases. It is only necessary to find the cause of a particular fear and work through it.

The most common causes of aerophobia:

  • fear of death,
  • fear of heights
  • fear of the dark
  • abundance of information
  • detailed discussion of the topic of air crashes,
  • the inability to control the situation, especially for perfectionists, retirees and people in high positions.

11 exercises against fear

Classical exercises help get rid of fear.

  • Put a thin elastic band on your hand. An ideal option is an elastic band with which bundles of banknotes are fastened. When the heartbeat becomes more frequent, it makes a noise in your ears and you want to run away from the airport, this gum should be pulled harder in the wrist area (where the skin is the most tender) and sharply released. After clicking an elastic band, the skin turns red, you feel a burning sensation, you want to cool your wrist, and most importantly - what? The brain switched from irrational fears to taking pity on the hand. This exercise is ideal for those who are afraid even before they get to the airport.
  • Search around for something real. Fear is a made-up phenomenon. You sit and imagine how a drunk pilot having sex with a no less drunk passenger pervert right on the dashboard, he tears off a very important lever, the autopilot turns off, the plane starts to fall in a zone of strong turbulence, you feel sorry for yourself, children, you say goodbye to everyone and. Stop! Is this really happening? Not!

Apply the method "Counting fives". Five things you can touch - what are they? Five smells that you can smell? Five sounds you hear? Make the brain think about real things.

  • A very famous technique - make the brain suffer. Deprive him of oxygen, and he will cease to nourish your subconscious. Take a paper bag (they are given on airplanes) and breathe into it. The brain lacks oxygen, and it ceases to draw the tragic consequences of the flight.
  • Take a bright narrow subject like pen cap. Putting it to your nose, focus your eyes on it. Then move it 20 cm, while continuing to follow his gaze. Then - again to the nose. The meaning is the same - to deceive the brain.
  • Pray. Prayer has a complex syllable for our mind, and it also makes the brain work. But work differently, out of tragic scenarios!
  • Will fit and computer gamebetter with meaning.
  • Ignore the news.
  • Do not be selfish. Do you want to show the child the world? Pull yourself together and don't let fear crush you!
  • Avoid drinking alcohol. He often leads into an altered state of consciousness, making it difficult to adequately perceive reality!
  • Use visualizations. A few days before departure, imagine yourself already at the final destination of the route, ignoring the flight. It helps the subconscious to live the future.
  • Breathe in your stomach as if inflating it and passing air through the whole body.

One of these methods will suit you 100%.

How to get rid of fear: alone or with the help of a therapist

It is only important to determine the degree of aerophobia. Sometimes a person is worried, but flies. Sometimes it freaks out and doesn't fly. And it happens that a person infects everyone around with his fear! Tells frightening cases from life (interestingly, stories are so embellished that witnesses will never recognize them), they do not let relatives and children fly, developing this fear in them!

What is important: such a person clings to his phobia, he will find a thousand reasons why he should not be treated. After all, he is healthy, just planes are demons. This degree of aerophobia should be treated exclusively by a psychotherapist! The rest will be helped by a psychologist and the “Fly Without Fear” course, where the emphasis is on the mind, on the design of aircraft and physics in conjunction with psychology.

When a person cherishes his phobia, he says: “Why heal? It does not bother me". Phobia is a disease. If you leave it unattended, it will grow, capturing the human subconscious.

Features of aerophobia

Aerophobia is a mental disorder that can be an independent process or part of another phobia (fear of confined space or height). Fear of flying on an airplane is often the result of a contingency that has affected the subconscious.

The severity of fear can be different. Some passengers just need to drink some alcohol, and they gradually get rid of fright. But sometimes the phobia is so vivid that a person is simply not able to force himself to board the airliner. For many, fear of flying manifests itself in stomach cramps, nausea, and the urge to vomit a few days before the flight. At the airport, hands and feet become wet and cold, sweating appears, and on the plane begins an increased heartbeat with a feeling of lack of air.

Causes of fear

For different ages of children, different causes of fears of an airplane are characteristic.

  • From the age of one to 5 years, children are afraid to fly, focusing on the feelings and fears of their parents. If adults themselves panic, then the baby easily considers this experience and will support it. That is, children are not afraid of the flight itself, but of the fact that parents are stressed,
  • At 5 years old, fear of death appears. The child has a lively and active imagination, he can catch a glimpse of the news on TV or a discussion of adults (read the article on the topic: The child is afraid of death >>>),

Airplane - a child decides this dangerously and begins to show fear of flying.

Negotiating adult conversations is a common cause of fear. For example, someone tells, with children, about a disaster, his fear of flying, the unreliability of an airplane.

This can easily cause a refusal to fly. Children's imagination is enough to give a small fragment of danger, and then she will turn it into a real horror.

  • A preschooler may also be frightened by the roar of motors, noisy neighbors, or simply become nervous in an unfamiliar environment. It is worth considering that by the time of the flight he may be tired of waiting or hungry. These factors can easily provoke hysteria on board,
  • Another reason that children cry during the flight is to lay their ears. Kids still do not know how to cope with this problem themselves. Take with you candy that can be absorbed during take-off. For newborns, mother’s breasts will do,
  • Past experience. If turbulence or other troubles occurred in previous flights, then fear becomes a completely natural phenomenon,
  • Individual case. Each has its own story, so find out why the child is afraid to fly on an airplane. Perhaps he does not want to go on vacation? Or angry that he was not allowed to take his favorite toy with him.

What if the child is afraid of the plane?

  1. Begin preparation in advance
  • Tell us about your upcoming trip,
  • Focus on the pleasant moments that await you - the warm sea or interesting excursions (by the way, read about what to do if the child is afraid of the sea >>>),
  • Talk about the stages of the flight - check-in, waiting room, landing. Sound the rules of conduct on board. Let the child be ready that he will have to sit for a while relatively calmly.
  1. Together, think about what you’ll do during the flight,
  • Watch movies or cartoons, play board games, read. In the hands of adults, make sure that the child in flight does not get bored,
  • Take plasticine, pencils, small games, stickers - this will help captivate the baby and he will forget about his fear. Now you can even find ready-made kits for games on the road (by the way, you can see games on the road in the article What to take a child in 1.5 years? >>>).
  1. Play role-playing games. Stay at home with a pilot, show how fun to fly. You can come up with fairy tales about birds flying south, tell how cool and interesting it is in the sky,
  2. For older children, conversations about the safety of this type of transport are suitable,
  • Show statistics. If your city has an airport, you can go on an excursion,
  • Explore the structure of the aircraft, see how they take off and land,
  • And, of course, it will be useful to see happy passengers who have returned from an exciting journey,
  1. Work on yourself
  • If you yourself are afraid to fly, then do not transmit fear. Keep your emotions to yourself
  • Do not discuss the flight as something scary and frightening,
  • Exclude watching disasters on television,
  • Better tell us about your positive flying experience. What beautiful views open from a height, how exciting it is to spend time on board.
  1. Try to distract your traveler directly during the flight,
  • Choose places near the aisle so as not to frighten the views from the window,
  • A phone with games, a tasty snack, an interesting conversation will help you forget about your worries,
  • And if there are children of the same age on the plane, then you can get to know them and play together (read what to do if the child is afraid of other children? >>>).
  1. Do not focus on the flight itself. Better tell us what awaits you on vacation. Too zealous preparation can also scare
  2. You can prepare a surprise for your child. And hand it on the plane. This will perfectly take his attention to the flight time and leave a positive memory,
  3. Ask what exactly is your son or daughter afraid of? It is one thing if there is a fear of heights, and another is reluctance to fly on vacation. Understand the reason.

As if the child was not afraid to fly the plane, remember that it is in your hands to show that the world is safe. That you can overcome your fears and move on. That you, the parents, are near and always ready to help and support.

The difference between a phobia and simple fear

However, not always the fear of flying on an airplane should be considered aerophobia. Fear is a defense mechanism that is natural to the human body and warns against potential dangers. Flying cannot be called a natural state for people, so there is nothing abnormal in the appearance of fear. The passenger realizes that the risk here is minimal, therefore he reacts adequately to the flight, even if he retains a sense of fear to some extent.

Aerophobia, like any mental health disorder, is irrational. Information that flying is safe enough is simply not perceived by humans. But each message about a plane crash becomes yet another confirmation of the high danger of flights.

Causes of Fear of Flights

Why are people so afraid of flying on an airplane that sometimes they cannot even overcome their fear? There are several reasons for this situation:

  • Modern man has received the fear of being above the earth from his ancestors, along with other gene information. At one time, people were very frightened by the "iron birds", so many people startled when they heard the sound of an airplane.
  • When an airliner rises into the air, the body realizes that it is outside the familiar environment. Passengers prone to panic and phobias experience a sense of fear.
  • Some are scared of previously watched films or books about air crashes, materials about the crash in the media.
  • Fear often arises during the first flight, a fear of the unknown is triggered here. Sometimes such an experiment is unsuccessful or the body takes the usual motion sickness for danger and gives the corresponding signal to the brain.

Often, everything is explained by the reluctance to trust your life to strangers - pilots, as well as the distrust of a large number of instruments and devices unknown to a person. Aerophobia is the result of a prolonged depressive state, severe stress, or a psychoemotional shock that is not associated with flying at all.

Impressive people are more susceptible to fear, for a long time fixing attention to previous negative events.

Manifestations of aerophobia

Aerophobia is characterized by a variety of symptoms of a physical, somatic and psychological nature. The manifestations of the first two include:

  1. Heart palpitations.
  2. The development of tachycardia.
  3. Soreness in the chest area.
  4. Sweating enhancement.
  5. Desires for vomiting and nausea.
  6. Frequent urination.
  7. Headaches of tension.
  8. Redness or pallor of the face.
  9. Tremor of the legs and arms.

It is possible to determine whether a person has aerophobia by a number of signs. The presence of an irrational fear of flying is indicated by the appearance of panic long before departure, suspicions that the stewardess and pilots are hiding something, thoughts of imminent death when an airliner gets into turbulence.

People with such a disorder feel extremely uncomfortable throughout the flight, press themselves into a chair during take-off and landing, constantly listen to the engines, trying to hear signs of damage.

Other psychological symptoms include:

  • Increased irritability a few days before departure.
  • Refusal of a flight at the last moment.
  • Strong reluctance to use air transport.
  • Obsessive thoughts about the plane crash.
  • The use of special medications to soothe.

How to overcome fear

Since traveling by air saves a ton of time and effort, many people try to overcome the fear of flying on an airplane. Submission to one’s fears leads to the development of a serious illness, so try to defeat the irrational fear. The best way to do this is to simply distract from anxious thoughts and your own phobia, switch to something else.

To stop being afraid of flying on an airplane you need:

  1. Try to tune in correctly in advance, at least not read the reports on air crashes and not watch films on this topic.
  2. Choose a flight with a departure at a comfortable time (for some it is better to fly at night, for someone it is easier in the light of day).
  3. Register in advance by asking for a place away from the windows.
  4. Do not sit in the tail zone, where turbulence is most felt.
  5. Refuse the desire to drink something alcoholic before flying, do not abuse coffee and sedatives.
  6. Find yourself an interesting lesson (download the game on your tablet, take an exciting book, crosswords.
  7. Listen to calm music in the headphones, which drowns out the noise of the engines.

It is easier to overcome fear during communication with neighbors in the cabin, even if one of them turns out to be an aerophobe. You can do even easier - to sleep during the flight. Ear plugs, a blindfold, a pillow under the neck can be useful for this. Many airlines offer passengers rugs or bedding. Sometimes it’s enough to lie down with your eyes closed, thinking about upcoming pleasant events or close people to overcome the fear of flying.

You need to try to overcome the fear of flying when the first symptoms appear. You can discuss your feelings with a loved one in a relaxed atmosphere. Often this helps to take a different look at things. It is advisable to realize that the experience will not have any effect on the course of the flight and not focus on negative emotions.

Specialist help

But if you can’t overcome the fear of flying on an airplane on your own, you can take advantage of professional psychological help. To do this, you need to find an experienced specialist who will identify the true causes of fear and teach you how to deal with phobia. A psychotherapeutic course may be required, but after it the flights will be perceived more naturally.

Psychologists use a variety of methods to overcome the fears of flying on an airplane. Most commonly used:

  • Neuro-linguistic programming.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy.
  • Modern forms of hypnotic effects.
  • Drug therapy.

To overcome aerophobia, flight simulators are used - virtual simulators that allow you to develop a certain habit of flying. A sense of the reality of flight is created on earth, so the fear will not be so strong. The doctor will help you choose the right pills, but you won’t be able to get rid of the phobia with the help of the medicine alone. Medicines relieve certain symptoms, but the disease itself is not treated.

Will pills help with fear of flights

Acceptance of any drugs should be agreed with the doctor. If you have to fly often, and every time panic moods arise, you will have to look for another method to defeat your fear. The doctor will tell you what to do if you are afraid to fly and how to resist this phobia.

Medicines that help get rid of the fear of flying are divided into several categories:

  • Light sedative drugs. Such drugs have a plant basis and stop mild symptoms of aerophobia. С их помощью люди побеждают нервозность, в том числе перед первым полетом.Such funds usually have a cumulative effect, respectively, you need to start taking them in advance. A recipe for their purchase is not required.
  • Tranquilizers - can be prescribed for severe panic attacks. Tablets give a sedative and hypnotic effect, are sold exclusively by prescription.
  • Barbiturates - a strong sleeping pill, is used for prolonged air travel and severe aerophobia.

Sedatives are relatively safe, have no side effects and contraindications. But they cannot protect against a panic attack. Tranquilizers are prescribed as a short-term course in order to eliminate the manifestations of a nervous disorder. Medications can have a long, medium or short exposure. The maximum validity period is 2 days, the minimum is less than 6 hours.

Barbiturates inhibit the functioning of the central nervous system, give a powerful sedative anticonvulsant effect. However, in their effect, they are equated with narcotic substances, therefore, they are used strictly in accordance with the rules and regulations.

Typically, drugs in this group act after 25 minutes, and sometimes immediately after administration. A recipe is required for their purchase. Barbiturates have a huge number of contraindications, side and undesirable effects.

Pills alone do not help eliminate the fear of flying on an airplane. However, as part of a complex effect, when combined with psychocorrection, medications can give the expected result. But before you drink pills, you should start by identifying the causes of phobia.

What to do if a child is afraid of flying

As you can see, even adults suffer from the fear of air travel. Children also often face such fear, and its causes are largely dependent on age. Kids from one to five years old sensitively capture the fears and emotions of their parents, fully focusing on them. If an adult panics, the child will support him in such an experience. In fact, it’s not the flight as such that scares the children, but the stress of the parents.

Around the age of five, fear of death appears. With a lively and active imagination, children decide that planes are dangerous and begin to be afraid. The most common cause of childhood fear is adult talk of flying in a negative way. For example, mother tells how she was afraid to fly, learned to overcome fear, listened to stories about disasters.

In such circumstances, the child may very well refuse to fly, not agreeing to fly, even for interesting trips. Based on a small fragment of danger, the children's mind draws vivid and scary pictures.

On the plane, children often cry, but the reasons may be different:

  • The child was afraid of unfamiliar surroundings, noisy neighbors, the sound of the engines of the airliner.
  • The kid could be hungry or just tired of waiting for departure.
  • In young children, they often lay their ears, and they still do not know how to cope with this problem on their own. In this case, the mother’s breast will help the newborn or baby. And older children - lozenges for resorption during takeoff.
  • Fear can be associated with past negative impressions, fear due to turbulence in a previous flight.

Children's fear of flights may be associated with other reasons. Here it is best to talk with the child, ask him why he does not want to fly on vacation.

Parents can take advice on how to not be afraid to fly on an airplane, and relieve children from fear. It is better to start the preparation in advance:

  1. Tell us more about the benefits of the upcoming trip.
  2. To focus the child on the most pleasant moments that await him on vacation.
  3. Tell in more detail about all stages of the flight, from check-in and waiting for departure to landing.
  4. Explain the rules of conduct in an airplane.
  5. Play a pilot, a stewardess.
  6. Talk about birds that are constantly in the sky and enjoy flying.
  7. You can tell older children about the safety of airliners, take them on an excursion to the airport, and show how planes take off and land.

We need to figure out what the child will do in flight. It should be something that can seriously interest and captivate him: cartoons, board games, reading. For kids, you can take stickers or pencils, ready-made sets of road games.

Parents will need some work on themselves if they have a fear of flying in any form. You need to learn to restrain your own negative emotions. In no case should one transmit fear, discuss flights as something terrible, watch stories about disasters on TV. It is better to tell the children how interesting it is to spend time on board and what types are opened from the window.

It is advisable for the child to choose a place near the aisle so that the view from the window does not scare him. An interesting conversation, games on the phone, getting to know other little passengers help to forget about unpleasant experiences. You can prepare a surprise for a child and hand it on the plane. For example, a toy that a child has long dreamed of will distract his attention from unnecessary fears.

What you need to know about the plane

Both adults and children who are afraid of flights should get an idea of ​​the structure of the airliner and the features of the aircraft:

  • Aircraft are equipped with powerful engines that lift them into the air and hold them at a height for a long time.
  • Each airliner has at least two engines. If some of them fail, the second will take over its functions.
  • The wings of the aircraft are firmly fixed to the body and cannot fall off in flight.
  • Each system that is used in the airliner has a backup program. In the event of a failure, a backup software package starts working. In passenger aircraft, there are at least four such doublers.
  • Deterioration of the pilot’s well-being cannot cause a disaster, because modern air transport is equipped with a reliable autopilot system.
  • From the ground, all flights are controlled by dispatchers, pilots constantly keep in touch with them, immediately learn about adverse weather changes and other unusual situations.
  • Aerodynamic parameters of the aircraft are calculated taking into account turbulence.

Only highly qualified professionals with sufficient experience are allowed to operate aircraft. Before departure, each vessel is carefully checked by technical service personnel using special diagnostic devices. Hazardous items on board are excluded through customs screening at terminals.

Fear of flying is aerophobia only when serious symptoms appear. But even in this case, there is an opportunity to overcome your fear. The main advice of experienced travelers is to distract yourself from frightening thoughts as much as possible. This rule also applies to children who are afraid of flying. But with medicines should be cautious. Tablets do not solve the problem, but only relieve symptoms, and some of them are quite dangerous.