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I have experienced panic attacks everywhere but I did not expect to suffer them on the plane. They would start with a scary feeling that the plane will crash. Then, all of a sudden, I had palpitations, sweaty palms… and the worse part: I thought I was going crazy. This constant and severe nervousness eventually triggered my fear to fly, also called aerophobia. So how can you overcome the fear of flying?
After many failed attempts, I learned that there is a simple way to fight them: shift your negative thoughts for encouraging ones, use positive affirmations and do not think too much about the trip. Whether it is a business trip or you are going to see family/friends just anticipate the excitement and that everything will be fine.
Another great way to handle them to prepare yourself mentally before getting on the plane to have a great travel experience without any fears or worries. Visualize a pleasant flight before getting on the plane. It is important to plan ahead and pack on time which will help to reduce anxiety and panic attack symptoms.
Also, practice relaxing techniques to help you cope with the fear of flying no matter where is your next trip. You can find them here. That would be the first step to take.
Besides, you can also find new ways to relax and use the ones that get you the best results. Not only you will be able to control your panic attacks while on the plane but you will defeat them once and for all!
Now you have found a way to fight them. In order to help you understand we will discuss the reasons why people experience excessive worry or anxiety before while flying.
Why people suffer from panic attacks on the plane?
Lots of people around the world, including me have experienced the fear of flying to the point of suffering a panic attack. Previous bad flying experiences, the news, severe stress, and/or anxiety disorders can trigger them.
Around 20 years ago, I did not know that the sudden, uncontrollable, and intense fear I experienced were panic attacks. I could have one or two on the plane each time. I tried to have a conversation with my seatmate to distract and shift any negative thoughts to keep my mind busy.
The funny thing is that the first two times I traveled in my life went fine and didn’t have panic attacks even though I had suffered them for about 3 years. They were not that bad. Most of the time, my panic attacks were experienced when my stress levels were high and when I was severely anxious. I thought that it was “just nervousness”. If you want to know about my experience with panic attacks please visit our About page.
My fear of flying escalated when my excessive and intense anxiety got worse. Not knowing anything about panic attacks caused my lifestyle to be affected as well. I can say that I kind of ignored them. That’s one of the reasons why people suffer a panic attack on the airplane.
However, there are other reasons people experience panic attacks on the airplane are:
This uncontrollable and excessive fear of having no escape can trigger a panic attack. Imagine being on a plane where there is nowhere to go.
If you have experienced this phobia in your daily life it is best to speak to a mental health practitioner.
According to weather.gov, “turbulence is an irregular motion of the air resulting from eddies and vertical currents. It may be as insignificant as a few annoying bumps or severe enough to momentarily throw an airplane out of control or to cause structural damage. “.
For the most part, they are harmless and will not cause a plane to crash. Pilots are well-trained to deal with them. Besides, technology helps pilots when the next turbulence is going to happen.
Although very rarely, turbulence-related injuries have been suffered by a few passengers. Therefore, it is very important to follow the pilot’s instructions.
Severe or long-term stress can trigger the fear of flying. It is very important to learn how to control your panic attacks or anxiety. To help you relax you can find our great tips here.
Death of a relative, divorce, or illness will greatly impact on your mental stability. They can trigger or worsen panic attacks. Joining a support group, practicing relaxation, staying active, and talking to a friend it will help you cope.
Air crash news
When we read or hear about plane crash accidents can cause anticipation or negative thoughts. Stop watching the news and don’t go searching for airplane accidents before your trip will help you focus better and stay positive.
Flying during a thunderstorm can trigger uncomfortable panic attacks symptoms on the plane. Depending on where and when you are traveling, check the weather before buying the tickets.
What to do when you suffer a panic attack on the plane
Whether you are traveling either for business or pleasure flying, can be unnerving and stressful. I have suffered many panic attacks when flying so I can tell you a thing or two on how to control them. Don’t let a panic attack to ruin your trip and follow these effective and simple tips:
Negative thoughts can make you feel more anxious which can increase the risks of suffering a panic attack while traveling. Shift them with affirmations or mindfulness to help you relax.
Wash your face
Also going to the airplane lavatory will help you shift your thoughts and forget about your worries. You can wash up, put on your lipstick, or comb your hair to distract yourself. It works for me!
Poor breathing can trigger panic attacks. Keep in mind that correct breathing can help you stay relaxed and prevent panic attacks on a plane. Focus on every part of your body. If you find any stiffness or tension breathe deeply and massage the area. To help you correct your breathing you can find our suggestions here.
Having a chat with a seatmate will help relieve your anxiety. Also, you can let the flight attendants know about how you feel about flying. They will understand and do their best to accommodate you.
Look at peoples’ faces
I know it sounds crazy but it works for me. During a normal aircraft movement, I used to look at everyone’s faces. If I did not see anyone nervous then I would assume everything was fine and peachy.
Facts to help you overcome the fear of flying
Do you know that traveling on a plane is safer than boarding a train, driving, and even walking? You may feel bumps or strange noises but they are normal unless otherwise indicated. Then the flight attendants will have a safety plan in case of an imminent situation.
In 2017, according to the Insurance Information Institute, more people died of falling, drug poisoning, accidental firearms discharge, choking on food, and even drowning more than an air crash.
Statistical information found in Plane Crash Info shows that the odds of being killed in a single plane crash are 1 in 19.8 million.
See, flying is not too dangerous as you may think. Now we will show you effective ways to fight your anxiety of traveling that can transform your lifestyle!
How to get over the fear of flying quickly
Trying to find a solution to extreme fear of flying can be overwhelming and frustrating. Therefore, we will share more effective tips on how to fight a panic attack while on the plane. If you or someone you love is afraid to fly this article will change your life. Also. we will show you how to help your seatmate calm down if they tell you they feel anxious flying.
A very important part of a great flying experience is preparation ahead of your trip. Doing so will help you decrease your panic attacks on the plane as well. Keep in mind that high levels of anxiety can trigger intense fears or worrying thoughts.
To prevent panic attacks on the plane this is what you need to do:
Before the trip
Planning ahead and preparing on time will help you stay calm and positive. The sooner you plan, pack, and make sure your documents are in order the better the experience you will have. Being unprepared will add a lot of stress to your travel. This is what you need to do prior to departure:
Check pricing months before the trip.
It can help you find better deals and you can expect how much you will spend.
Early flights may work for you
According to Conde Nast Traveler, a plan to fly in the morning as turbulence happens after “atmosphere warms up on the ground causes the mixing of differently heated air, fomenting convective activity”. It means that during cool weather or during the early hours of the morning the air becomes smoother with less chance of bumpy air.
Buy your ticket on time
Purchasing your tickets in advance will save you a lot of trouble. Choosing an aisle seat near the middle would help me stay relaxed on the plane.
Train your brain
Think positive and visualize an uneventful journey. Do not let any bad thoughts get in your way! Always repeat to yourself that everything will be fine.
Pack on time
Make sure you pack the essentials such as personal items, medications, comfortable clothes, personal documents, etc to simplify your trip.
To help you bring the necessary items please find this useful link from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Visit your doctor
If you are following medical treatment for your panic attack, speak to your mental health specialist about an extra refill or to try a new medication to help you prevent a panic attack on the plane.
Confirm your flight
Make sure there are no changes or cancellations before your trip. You can either call the airline or access flight information online. This will help you prevent anticipations and what-ifs.
Pack your essential oil
I use to bring my .5 ounce lavender essential oil to help keep me calm or prevent a panic attack on the plane. Make sure you follow the 3-1-1 liquids rule here. Since I don’t like to carry small bottles in my purse when I travel, you can put some drops of your essential oil on your handkerchief or paper towel to help maintain your calmness on the airplane.
During the flight
Sit upright, direct the air vent towards you and take off your shoes. However, listen and watch the flight attendants’ safety guidelines. Also, keep yourself busy reading a book, sleeping, writing, etc. Breathe deeply and relax your body.
After the trip
If your trip has a return, remain positive and follow our above-explained tips. Flying back home doesn’t make me feel as anxious and the experience is much pleasant.
Also, enjoy your time with your dear ones and go out to keep yourself busy to release your anxiety.
How can you help your seatmate
Several years ago, I was on the plane to visit family and friends. This time I was feeling better compared with my other experiences with flying.
There was a teenager seated beside me. Looking at his body language, I could tell he was very anxious. I smiled at him and initiated small talk. A bit after I felt some bumps and told him “I really hate this.” He confessed he was afraid of flying.
I told him that aircraft movements are perfectly normal. Also, I mentioned to him that cars and boats also move when they are running. In addition, I told him as the weather is very nice and the trip was going to be really nice.
Minutes later I felt his relief and we continued talking until we arrived at the destination. I am glad for going through the nightmare of having panic attacks on a plane because I was able to help someone.
What can be expected before beating your extreme nervousness
Trying to control your panic attacks will not be easy. Yes, you will struggle at first but you will become stronger and wiser as you battle to defeat them.
If you follow our above-indicated recommendations you may see the desired results in as little as 2-3 weeks or even more, depending on the intensity and how long you have been suffering them.
Besides, you may try many strategies but only a couple of them may work for you. In addition, you may discover new ways to beat your fear of flying.
The only way to prevent panic attacks on the plane is not giving up!
5 Common mistakes that may trigger panic attacks on the plane
As part of your panic attack management, there are many habits or regular tendencies that you need to kick. Once you do that you will be able to gain control of them. I wish I knew them before.
Therefore, we have put this list together to help you prevent panic attacks on the plane and enjoy your flights:
Thinking too much about flying
Just expect a great time and lots of fun. The more you think about this the more worried you will feel. Use visualization and self-talk to help you stay positive.
Watching the news about airplane crashes
Ignore the news during the time of your trip to prevent bad thoughts that may trigger severe anxiety. Watch travel shows or documentaries to help you focus.
Not preparing on time
Buy the tickets, pack, and have your documents in order beforehand to avoid any setbacks or issues before leaving. Prepare a checklist of the items you need to pack things and what you need to do before traveling.
Anticipating the worse
If you already have panic attacks, worrying thoughts are very common. However, they can worsen your intense fears. Try to shift them to inspiring ones to help you cope.
Ignoring panic attack attacks
Been there done that. But it did not work. Not doing anything to manage them will turn the situation into a neverending nightmare.
That’s why we are very happy to share effective solutions to panic attacks that have worked for us.
To conclude, whether you have suffered panic attacks or not, I hope our article “How can you prevent panic attacks on a plane? Start today!” can be of great help to you and your dear ones.
I know this is a long post and can be overwhelming at first. Use our article to take the next step and start there. Take your time and stay positive. If we were able to beat panic disorder so can you!
Conquer your fears and explore this beautiful world!
B.L.A. is a web developer/designer and writer who enjoys country life in western Pennsylvania, USA along with her husband C.C.A, who is also a contributor, co-author, and editor.
Check out their other blog SmartAroundyourWrist.com.