Our family is travelling to Tonga in September and I have a severe fear of flying. I’m contemplating not going because I’m worried I’ll be so stressed on the flight that I’ll want to get off. Do you have any suggestions?
Mrs LG, Anna Bay
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Dear Mrs LG,
Your fear is legitimate. Many people have phobias of some kind and being 30,000 feet in the air for an extended period of time with complete strangers is unnatural. Add in some turbulence, the constant warning flash of the ‘fasten your seatbelt’ sign, a screaming baby, and a passenger who has fallen asleep and is now dribbling on your shoulder and flying becomes a form of torture.
Is your fear associated with a lack of control? You mention that you are worried you will want to get off. Let me assure you, Mrs LG, the flight attendants will not allow this to happen, even if they have to restrain you. It’s a heck of a long swim to Tonga.
There are some natural strategies you can try. Deep breathing can be quite effective, though I imagine you’ve already got that one covered. White knuckling the seat in front of you won’t help you or the lady whose hair is now entwined in your fingers. Some people find a bit of alcohol helpful, but it could go one of two ways. You want to have your wits about you if something does go wrong (not that it will, Mrs LG, not that it will). You could perhaps listen to some music or a meditation podcast.
Also, think of the end result. Imagine reclining in the sun, a cocktail in one hand and a book in the other. That’s surely worth the angst.
If you are really petrified, you may need to consult your GP and get a referral to see a specialist. All the best with it.