Therapy for the whole family Flying with anxiety or worry

Whether it’s you, a child or other family member, being unable to travel by airplane without anxiety or panic is going to affect the whole family and restrict your life.  While we were going through the Covid epidemic flying was less of an option but we’re getting back to normal now and the world is again open for both holidays and business travel.

What is a fear of flying?

Simply, it’s heightened anxiety and a fear of being out of control.  If you experience this fear you probably have issues with other situations where you have limited or no control too.  Most people are able to adjust their life, their seating (say in a car) or are able to put up with the feeling for short periods of time, within limits they set for themselves, in other areas, but that’s simply not always possible in a plane.

However, often it’s the impact on others that’s the biggest problem.  If your partner or friend is keen to travel far afield, then flying is most likely the easiest, fastest and cheapest way to do it.  When you’re the person holding them back they can get pretty upset.  It can feel like they don’t understand the depth of your fear/worry and because they don’t have those feelings themselves and they probably never will.  That said, fear of flying is very, very common and it’s relatively easy to fix

So, what do I do to avoid a fear of flying?

The first step is to work out what it is particularly you’re afraid of.  For some it’s the idea of being shut into a plane with no means of escape, for others the idea of being far from home.  These are two very different emotions and need different tactics;

Fear of being locked in:  If you have similar sensations when in a car or train/tube, you can extend your coping strategies to the plane too.  Do you make sure you’re seated in a particular position?, then choose your seat on the plane in the same way.  This may mean you need to book early for a flight, or pay slightly more for your seat, but it’s one step towards feeling in control.  You can take things with your to divert your attention…that book you’ve been meaning to read, that film you’re keen to see, downloaded to an ipad, if there is no in-flight entertainment.

Finding out what films are going to be shown on long-haul  flights is usually pretty easy; just find your airline’s website and from there you should find the media rota for the days you’re travelling

You can also start to think of your flight as a time to pamper yourself.  For long-hauls, take a change of clothing and change into something cosy and comfortable.  Buy that glossy magazine you love but rarely treat yourself to…now’s the time for a bit of what makes you feel good.  Buy drinks and snacks at the airport that you’d like to indulge in.  You can find out the food being offered, again through the airline’s website and if it’s not something you like, stocking up at the airport is the way to go.

Make yourself a “mood board” …they were all the range in the 90’s and 00’s to motivate people to do more in life.  You can do exactly that with the upcoming holiday or trip.  What are you looking forward to?  Put an image representing that on your board (and your board can be physical if you’re crafty, or digital, on your phone or ipad.)  Show pictures of the people you’ll visit, the places you’ll go to, the activities you want to do, the colour of the water or the mountains, even the sound of waves or, if you add a soundtrack.

If it’s a business trip, work through your most hopeful outcomes and represent them

For weeks before the trip you can visit your mood board 10/20 times a day (increasing as the trip gets closer) and create what I call a future memory

Before your holiday or business trip

In the weeks coming up to your journey, use the mood board idea to conjure up the most positive scenarios; a rapid check-in, straight through security, the most wonderful cocktails or pancakes in one of the airport restaurants.  See yourself literally bouncing with positive anticipation.  Can’t wait to get to your destination!

This is the important aspect, so far you’ve concentrated on the journey to your destination, rather than the reason you’re going.  Now’s the time to realise that the journey is the very smallest part of what you’re doing and absolutely not the reason you’ve booked your flight.

Concentrate on the destination, the future experiences and the joy they’ll bring you

With all this in mind, most anxious flyers will handle the journey well, and once you’ve got an OK experience under your belt you can start building on that for future flights.

Confident Flying Sessions at Lutterworth Health

If you want a bit of help with these techniques or feel that you or your loved one need more, or if time is limited, please call or message me on 07500907428 and I can book you in for a single session.

We’ll use Applied Psychology to change your expectations and help you build a positive foundation for flying.  This can also include a hypnotherapy session, if you like, to further cement those changes.  I can work with children from 7 years of age and can usually find you an appointment within a couple of days if you’re diary is flexible.

I’ve yet to have anyone have problems with their flights in the 18 years I’ve been in practice and I do dozens of Confident Flying sessions in the holiday months

Have a wonderful holiday or business trip…and send me a photo to share on my Facebook !!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.