The fear of flying is a known as a complex phobia. A complex phobia is one where there are many different fears converging all at once. In the case of the fear of flying these may be the fear of crashing, feeling claustrophobic and the fear of losing control all at the same time. As a former agoraphobia sufferer my phobia manifested itself as a fear of passing the point of no return as the plane raced down the runway. I would mistake the physical sensations commonly associated with flying such as pressure in the ears for the onset of a panic attack.
However in most cases people don’t actually fear the plane losing control but are more likely to fear that they will lose control of themselves. Throughout the duration of the flight they may feel that they have a panic attack ticking away inside them like a ticking bomb that could go off at any moment. The fear that they will lose control whilst in a confined space with nowhere else to go is a bigger fear than the plane crashing.
It’s probably going to be easier to overcome your fear of flying if you are flying to a vacation rather than on a business trip. The more excited you can feel about what you are going to do when you get there, then the more positive you are likely to be about the flight.
The fear of flying and how to conquer it is the same as for any other phobia. You need to understand that panic attacks are nothing more than your fight or flight response being activated due to perceiving situations to be more fearful than they actually are. It’s a behaviour that has been learned and can be unlearned. Panic attacks cannot harm you and the sooner you can accept this the less power your anxiety will have over you in future. Fear is something that you need to embrace and not something you should try to suppress. Imagine you are a surfer on a surfboard with a huge wave approaching. The huge wave represents your fear. You can either ride the wave or you can crash straight into the fear and let the fear completely overwhelm you. When you conquer the fear and ride the wave it is exhilarating and even fun.
So don’t try to suppress the fear next time you fly. Welcome it instead. The fear won’t like it and it will back off.
Distraction is another way of coping with anxiety whilst flying. If you don’t feel anxious right now then the more you can keep you mind preoccupied the less likely you are going to experience anxiety later on. So take along something to read or some music to listen to.
It can be more frightening flying alone as people who suffer from anxiety and panic often feel isolated and misunderstood. It might be a good idea to mention this to the flight crew. They will be used to people who are scared of flying and will be happy to check on your during your flight. It can be very reassuring to know that there are people on the plane who understand that you are afraid of flying.