Spiders. Snakes. Heights. Clowns. The dark.
Yep, I’m talking about phobias. According to statistics, about 15-20% of the world’s population will suffer from a specific phobia at some point in their lives. Personally, I think a lot of people are lying and that percentage is probably a lot higher.
Arachnophobia is the most common one. Luckily, it’s not something that bothers me. Big hairy spiders? Absolutely no problem. If I find one in my house, I’ll get a glass and a piece of paper – problem solved.
My biggest phobia? Flying. And it’s not an easy one to cope with when you adore travelling and want to see the world.
The anxiety usually kicks in the night before I’m about to head off to whatever country I’m visiting next. What if something goes wrong? What if the plane crashes? When I’m on the flight I’m constantly checking the time, desperately counting down the minutes to our arrival. Every little bump and jolt has me clinging to the armrest, convinced we’re going to plummet to our deaths. And when I’m safely at my destination, sipping cocktails on the beach or seeing the country, there’s always that little pit of anxiety in my stomach, knowing that in a couple of weeks I’ll have to get back on that plane to take me home. Even worse, I’m usually travelling with my child and the last thing I want is to pass that phobia on, so I have to keep a smile on my face and pretend that everything is all fine and dandy.
Yes, I KNOW that planes are the safest form of transport and I KNOW that statistically I’m more likely to be hit by lightning twice than die in a plane crash or whatever. But fear doesn’t listen to statistics. Phobias aren’t logical – that’s why they’re phobias.
But to be honest, I’ve had enough. Since I started a new job a couple of months ago and my financial situation has vastly improved, it’s looking like all my travel dreams have the potential to become reality very soon. And I do not want those dreams to be blurred with the anxiety I have about flying. I want to be comfortable on an aeroplane and to enjoy every second of my holiday without worrying about the flight home again. So I’ve been collecting a few tips to try and use before my next flight and I’m going to try and put them into practise.
- Avoid caffeine. I’ve seen this in quite a few places – apparently caffeine can make you even more jumpy, so it’s best not to drink it before a flight. I’m a coffee lover so I’ll bear this in mind.
- Use breathing techniques – in through the nose, out through the mouth. I’ve never really been convinced about this but I’ve never really tried it before so I’m open to giving it a go.
- Knowledge is your friend. I actually read a blog written by a pilot that explained all about turbulence, how if the engines failed the plane could still glide to safety, and how all the different equipment worked. I mentioned earlier about how fear doesn’t listen to logic but I try to remind myself that pilots and cabin crew fly every day and they aren’t worried, so why should I be?
- Take medication. This is something I’m not really comfortable doing especially travelling with a child. I won’t even take paracetamol, let alone anti-anxiety drugs because I don’t like messing about with my body – I prefer natural remedies. I know they’re helpful for some people though.
- Go on a fear of flying course. This is something I’ve been considering for quite a while, but actually having the time to do it is a bit tricky, plus the cost is quite high!
- Feel the fear and do it anyway. Even if I never get over my phobia it definitely won’t stop me from travelling, but it would be nice to get on that plane without the anxieties hanging over my head!
Or I could always do what my mum does (who has the same phobia) and have a couple of stiff drinks before the flight!
I’d love to hear from people who have fear of flying, especially if you’ve managed to get over it and can teach me how!