With the most recent aviation tragedy fresh in our minds, many are concerned about the safety of flying. The fact that flying has become so reliable that one could fly every day for 123,000 years before being in a fatal crash may comfort some. For others, the anxiety stays regardless of what our minds tell us. For business travelers, it doesn’t matter how you feel, you still have to fly somewhere to get to work. Here are some ways to deal with it.
Distraction. Just sitting there, thinking about all the things that could go wrong is a recipe for an anxiety attack. Get your mind off of potential issues by reading, watching a movie, working, knitting…. Basically doing anything is way, way better than nothing. Sometimes when I’m feeling particularly nervous about something I am unable to focus enough to be productive, so I read instead of pretending to work.
Breathe. Use yoga breathing or visualization to calm your mind. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and imagine yourself someplace peaceful. Really listening to and focusing on your breathing, can calm you down. I will sometimes listen to meditation or yoga podcasts and imagine myself in yoga poses, while my mom will often listen to sounds of nature.
Choose your seat wisely. If you are claustrophobic at all, sit in the aisle even if it costs a bit extra. The ability to get up whenever you need to is worth it! If you are sitting in the window, it may help to close the shade. Sit as close to the front as you can, as turbulence is worse toward the back of the plane. Unless, of course, it makes you feel better to be near an exit row. You also may want to avoid small planes for a while (pictured).
Take care of yourself. Make sure you are wearing comfortable clothing, are hydrated, and have enough snacks. Wearing something with a restrictive waistband can upset my stomach during a flight, which compounds any negative feelings I have. If this happens to you, try some ginger ale or ginger candy, and (of course) don’t wear tight clothes.
Therapy. If nothing works to reduce your flying anxiety, consider therapy. When you fly regularly for your job, there’s not really a workaround. The constant dread can wear on you, eventually affecting other parts of your life. Don’t let it get that far!
Switch to trains. For some routes, it may make sense to choose a train instead of freaking out over a plane ride. It’s very safe, much safer than by car, but not as safe as air travel (which doesn’t necessarily matter in the middle of a panic attack).
Readers, have you had increased anxiety about flying since Malaysia Air 370 went missing? (I know I have!) How have you dealt with it?