Are you a nervous flier? Here are tips for dealing.

Does the idea of hurtling through the air at 500mph in a metal tube with 200 other people make you shudder with fear and anxiety? You’re not alone! There are plenty of frequent-fliers who actually hate flying. Luckily there are ways to deal with it.

Listen to music. Putting on headphones and playing my favorite songs whisks me away from the outside world. If I’m unhappy, nervous, or just need to focus, my playlist makes me feel like I’m on my own private island. Even when surrounded by 150 fellow passengers!

Practice meditation/affirmations. Pick an affirmation before you go and practice it. “I’m safe, and we are going to have a wonderful flight.” Repeat it to yourself before your trip, as you’re boarding, and especially once you’re seated. Close your eyes, practice taking deep breaths, and tell yourself everything will be fine.

Choose an aisle seat. For many people with flying anxiety, being next to the window exacerbates their concern. They feel trapped, they feel forced to look down at the ground, they can see how fast they’re moving, etc. Sitting in an aisle gives the illusion of more room, and keeps you away from the potentially scary view.

Focus on comfort. Make sure you are as comfortable as possible. Wear your softest clothes, bring a scarf for warmth, an eye mask, and a pillow if needed. Bring your favorite treat, whether it’s dark chocolate or a special tea blend. Anything to make you feel safe and comforted.

Distract yourself. Think of flying as a time to do something fun. Wait, what? you say. Flying isn’t fun! Being super close to a bunch of people isn’t fun! While it’s true that there are several non-fun aspects to flying, I like to use my travel time to do stuff I don’t have time for at home—watch fun movies, read a new book, knit, or sleep. Obviously if I have work to do that comes first, but for some reason I am extremely productive on planes and get way more done than I do at home. (I’m flying now while I type this!)

Look at the stats. If you’re the type of person who appreciates statistics, have a look at some recent safety stats for flying. It’s safer than driving! Plus you get to work/watch movies/sleep while you’re in transit.

Readers, are you a nervous flier? How do you manage it?

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  1. Xanax. Seriously. My doctor was reluctant to prescribe it but I only need it in times of turbulence and explained I wanted something with a fast uptake because most of the time I wouldn’t need it, but when I did, I would need it quickly.

  2. I was never a particularly nervous flyer. However, turbulence did bother me somewhat and more so than usual after 9/11. Then I started taking flying lessons. They finally fixed any fear of turbulence. Most turb is not life-threatening and I now view it as “bumps in the road”, For example, at my airport, there’s an air pocket that always sits right at the point when you turn from crosswind to downwind in the pattern. It bounces the plane, but as the plane is highly stable, it rights itself at once. Understanding these phenomena helps to deal with them. If this sounds like an extreme remedy, try reading a good aviation textbook or material online-there’s a lot of it out there. Jeppesen is a great one. Oh, and my pilot friends recommend Dramamine for nervous flyers or for flight in windy conditions.

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