A plane taking off from the airport in Berlin, Germany.

Travelling by plane is one of the fastest and easiest modes of transportation available today. It lets people visit family and friends all over the globe in a relatively short amount of time. While most people enjoy the convenience of air travel, people with a flight phobia can have an anxiety attack or generalised anxiety about flying. Fortunately, (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it) the fear of flying is one of the most common phobias that people face. This generally means that people understand where you coming from with the fear and will try to help you overcome the phobia.

If you want to travel the world, and your fear of flying is keeping you from getting there, psychologists and everyday people have come up with a number of ways to reduce the anxiety associated with flying. Ranging from medicinal cures to the power of positive thinking—different things work for different folks. Here are seven ways to help you reduce your anxiety about flying so hopefully you can get to experience what the rest of the world has to offer.

Learn How Flying Works

Go to the library and beef up your knowledge of planes; how they are built, how the work, the physics of flying, the mechanical side of planes. The more you know, the more you can tell yourself your fears aren’t based in reality. Instead of thinking, 'what if the wheels fall off during takeoff and we crash and burn?' you will have the knowledge that tells you plane’s wheels are specifically engineered to prevent anything like that happening and it has never happened before.

Start with Baby Steps

It would be foolish to say go from reading a list about how to solve flight anxiety directly onto a flight and hope it works. Baby steps are key. If you start to get anxious in the terminal, tackle those worries first. Head to the airport to get comfortable in the terminal; the more time you spend there, the more comfortable you will become. If this sounds exceedingly dull, then that’s the right way to think about it. It’s hard to be dull and anxiety producing at the same time.

Become Less Anxious

Easier said than done, right? What we mean by this is reducing generalised anxiety. If you are a naturally anxious person who carries that tension with you all the time, it’s time to let go and learn a few techniques to getting centered, calm and relaxed. Try meditation, try guided breathing exercise, or try listening to classical music. By focusing on breath, and calm and music, you are more likely to let go of the anxieties and more like to be able to let go of the flying ones, too.

Settle on the Right Mindset

Anyone who has experience anxiety before will tell you how hard it is to break the cycle of thinking negatively or obsessively about what could go wrong. Beating your fear of flying will be a tedious and slow process, but when you are determined to do it and set the right mindset before dealing with everything, you’re more likely to succeed. Try viewing the entire process as a fun game, not a chore.

Try Focused Flying

This tip may seem a little counterintuitive. Instead of avoiding thinking about everything that bothers you. For example, if taking off is a stressful experience for you, then before the flight you will learn everything you can about take off, you understand what sights, sounds and sensations are normal during this process, and then you stay focused on experiencing those sights, sounds and sensations when you are onboard. When you do this, the mystery is gone, the scary part is logical and you can rest easier.

Grab a Seat Over the Wing

If turbulence is a big issue for you, then grab a seat on the wing of the plane and blast the air valve above you. When you open the nozzle, direct the blast of air onto your face. This will help you stay calm and slow your heartbeat. The seat over the wing will give you the more stability and prevent most turbulence from getting to you so you can focus on other techniques instead of the slight bumping around.

Get a Doctor’s Note

When there is no other way to get around your fears, and you have to take a flight, it may be time to talk to your doctor. Explain to them the situation and all of the methods you have tried previously to try and get through it without anxiety. There is no shame in it.

Giving in to the fear and anxiety surrounding flying can make you miss out on the chance to travel the world and see everything it has to offer. If you are feeling a little better about flying and think it may be time to book your ticket out of Oz, then by all means, full steam ahead. When you do decide to bite the bullet and take a plane to your next international destination, consider travel insurance and it’s importance.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Till Krech