like life, is a journey, not a destination, then as many as one in three travellers
are in for a bumpy ride.
because psychologists estimate between one in three and one in five people
suffer from aerophobia, or fear of flying. For some, it is a debilitating
phobia that can make a nightmare of a dream vacation, especially given the
recent reports of eerie plane crashes, increased air turbulence and fewer operational US air control towers.
like Julia Cameron, a creativity expert who flies monthly to lead workshops and
teach writing classes, it is an unbearable and embarrassing fear that gets in
the way of work. But after decades of suffering from the condition, Cameron
tackled her fear and wrote Safe Journey: Prayers and Comfort
for Frightened Flyers and Other Anxious Souls. Released 18 April, the book details her slightly
unorthodox approach to confronting the fear that keeps some would-be travellers
with yourself in a journal and writing
a prayer for each step of the journey, Cameron recommends distraction –
especially in the form of trashy magazines – as a tactic for alleviating flight
anxiety. According to an
interview in the New York Times, she totes about $30 worth of tabloids on
board. “There’s something vastly comforting about worrying about celebrities’
cellulite,” she said.
Cameron, the phobia was related to a lack of control and an anxious mind that
spooled out dire scenarios, like engine failure. In fact, aerophobia, also known as
aviatophobia and aviophobia, is a broad condition that is often a combination
of related phobias, including claustrophobia (fear of enclosed spaces),
acrophobia (fear of heights) and agoraphobia (fear of having panic attacks in
certain spaces out of one’s control).
for those who suffer from aerophobia, the associated fears are many, ranging
from a fear of crashing to a fear of turbulence – even a fear of flying at
night, or over water. And as unhappy flyers know, it can make trips miserable,
with symptoms ranging from anxiety to hyperventilation, even panic attacks or
and with the right combination of cognitive and behavioural therapy, a fear of
flying can be cured, according to psychologists who offer treatments at such
aerophobia clinics like Boston University’s Center
for Anxiety and Related Disorders.
treatments we have for this are so effective… that upwards of 80%, and
sometimes even more people, who get the treatment can fly," psychologist
Todd Farchione of Boston University told Fox News.
treatments often consist of identifying a patient’s fears and the thoughts that
lead up to them, then having patients gently confront fears by imagining flying
and eventually flying – whether on flight simulators or on actual airplanes.
such as Farchione and online resources such as the Anxiety
and Depression Association of America and AnxietyUK
offer a few other tips to help conquer flying fears:
anxiety and fear of flying can help fearful travellers understand the mental
and physical process taking place when a phobia strikes, thereby helping them control
anxious reactions. Psychologists even recommend watching videos of planes
taking off and landing to help anxious flyers become more comfortable with the
athletes visualize making the perfect basket or sinking the perfect
hole-in-one, those suffering from aerophobia should visualize themselves taking
a smooth flight, from arriving at the airport and boarding the plane to
fastening their seatbelt and landing safely. Visualizing is a form of practice
that helps prepare and soothe people ahead of high-stakes experiences.
Nip negative thoughts
Once on a
flight, psychologists recommend stopping negative thought processes immediately
by saying the word “stop” to oneself and replacing negative thoughts with
positive ones. Focusing on breathing – taking long, deep breaths and slow
exhalations – can also help.
for severe phobias, medication may be a good option. Doctors can prescribe
anti-anxiety medications to help fearful flyers calm their nerves ahead of a