10. Identify What Scares You
9. Educate Yourself
Fear is often irrational, and anxiety has a way of undercutting common sense. Still, the fear of the unknown is the greatest fear, and anxiety thrives on "what ifs." Learn as much as you can—about flight mechanics, about how airlines and airports work—whatever it is that scares you most, learn the most about that. By turning the unknown into the known, and you can better fight it.
8. Manage the Time Leading Up to the Flight
A big part of aviophobia is called "anticipatory anxiety." Leading up to the flight, it's easy to imagine all sorts of crazy stuff. Education will help here, as will relaxation techniques, flight simulators, and even group therapy. Try listening to music or reading a book to take to keep your mind from wandering while waiting in the airport.
7. Use Breathing Techniques
There are multiple therapy-couch phrases that are tossed around as jokes: "deep breaths," or "go to your happy place," for example. But these things are brought up repeatedly because they actually work. Regardless of how you clear your mind, your attention is going to be focused on something that isn't triggering your fear. If your senses are focused on your breathing, you'll have less bandwidth to worry about that turbulence you're feeling.
6. Remember the Facts
Everyone talks about the fact that planes are safer than cars, and, as sick as you are of hearing it, it's true. The media likes to play up airline tragedies because they look dramatic and involve lots of people, but statistically, you're safer than you are on the road or maybe even at home.
5. Get Comfortable
We have a whole guide to surviving long-term flights. Most of it involves becoming as comfortable as you possibly can, from springing for nicer seats to bringing things along that put you at ease. If you can make this tiny space yours, you'll be operating from a more comfortable baseline than you were before.
4. Talk to Someone
Try talking briefly to a flight attendant or with a family member. Sort through your concerns. Alternatively, have a normal conversation about little things with the person next to you. Just make sure, if they're a stranger, that they're open to conversation.
3. Keep Distracted
Read, watch a movie, listen to music, sleep, or focus on the breathing exercises and conversations like we've mentioned before. Keep your mind occupied because once it has free reign it's going to start making up new things for you to worry about.
2. Make Yourself Fly
This one's more for the long run. Most successful treatments of a fear involve exposing yourself to that fear. If you can afford to take short warm-up flights before the big one, do so. If not, things like flight simulators can help you get used to the idea.
1. Don't Back Down
The bulk of anxiety lies in anticipation. If you let yourself cancel flights out of fear, then you experience the anxiety without having the "that wasn't so bad" experience that counters anxiety. Each time you cancel, the dread reinforces itself, growing stronger. The only way to combat this is to follow through.