It’s the time of year when many of us plan our summer holidays. However, for some travellers, the fear of flying outweighs the pleasure and excitement of booking a holiday abroad.
With over 70m passengers passing through Heathrow alone in 2015, many of us choose flight as our preferred transport method. But surprisingly, it’s thought that at least one in ten of us have a fear of flying.
We all experience that adrenalin-raising moment when the taxiing aeroplane picks up speed. This soon passes, and most passengers relax and enjoy the flight. However, for those who experience a fear of flying, the adrenalin levels remain at an unpleasantly high level.
A phobia of air travel can become a debilitating anxiety that prevents us from enjoying holidays abroad, visiting far-flung family, or making overseas business trips. An aviophobe may be completely fearless in other aspects of their lives, with sporty hobbies and careers that are high-flying – in every other way. Happily, a fear of flying can be managed using hypnotherapy techniques.
Why are we afraid to fly?
There isn’t one easy answer to this. Some people can’t get beyond the idea that flying simply isn’t natural. Their fears come from tangible factors such as turbulence, or news reports about air disasters. Perhaps they’ve needed to change planes or been delayed on the runway due to a fault. If someone is prone to anxious feelings, events like these can easily add up to a mortal fear that feels all-too-rational. However, reading statistics about the relative safety of air travel doesn’t help resolve these fears…
It can be due to a fear of loss of control, similar to other anxiety disorders. This could be feelings of claustrophobia due to the confined space or fear of a panic attack. Someone who is acrophobic (has a fear of heights) clearly will find the thought of flying extremely unpleasant. It could be fear of feeling nauseous due to motion or even the smell of airline food. Some people find the idea of aeroplane toilets extremely worrying, especially on long-haul flights. The lack of privacy on a plane, the fear of germs, a worry about ears popping, the sheer logistics of passport control and baggage retrieval – those prone to overthinking can find all sorts of anxieties about flying which combine and build up into a real phobia.
It’s also possible for people who’ve always been happy flyers to suddenly develop a fear of air travel. This could be because something in their lives, not necessarily related to flying, resulted in a panic attack on the plane. Therefore, an association starts to develop, and the plane becomes identified as a place where panic attacks happen.
How can solution focused hypnotherapy help manage a fear of flying?
A fear or phobia develops when your primitive mind thinks you’re in danger. It doesn’t matter that the intellectual side of the brain knows that the pilot is highly trained and that the plane has passed all sorts of stringent safety checks – the primitive part of our brain, the amygdala, tells us that we’re not safe in the air, and that’s it. It releases stress hormones, triggering our fight or (forgive the expression) flight response.
As we looked at above, there are various phobias associated with air travel; and reprogramming our primitive brain is the key to managing these fears. We can do this using solution focused hypnotherapy.
Hypnosis is simply a contrived trance state which brings the primitive and rational sides of the brain together, allowing them to work together. This allows you to replace irrational anxieties with positive calming thoughts. When you change how your subconscious mind perceives flying, it helps to control those limiting stress hormones.
Let me help you take flight…
We all need a holiday sometimes! Don’t let a fear of flying come between you and that tropical beach or exciting city break. A fear of flying can be limiting if you need to fly with your job; but it can be helped using solution focused hypnotherapy.
I’m Debbie Daltrey, the founder of Great Minds Clinic and an Anxiety UK Approved Therapist. My clinics are in Timperley, Altrincham, and Manchester City Centre. Please call me for a confidential chat – and don’t let a fear of flying ground you this summer.