Despite the fact that flying is by far the safest way to travel, a huge portion of the population still has a very real fear of flying. In reality, though, boarding a commercial flight is undeniably low-risk — fatalities on U.S. commercial airplanes are extremely rare. In fact, according to U.S. Census data, your odds of dying in a plane crash are rarer than virtually every other kind of death, including getting struck by lightning, getting attacked by a dog and dying on a train.
Despite all of this, so many of us experience sweaty palms, heart palpitations and uncontrollable anxiety at the simple thought of boarding an airplane. But, unless you’re willing to accept not traveling anywhere for the rest of your life, avoidance is not a suitable solution. Facing your fear of flying is an important step to broadening your horizons as a person and enjoying all the world has to offer — which, by the way, is a lot. Plus, it will help make travel much less stressful and even potentially enjoyable.
The first step in working up the courage to combat your fear of flying is finding ways to cope with the anxiety that occurs before and during your flight. Here are a few of our top tips for coping with flight anxiety on the ground and in the air.
- Pack a Weighted Accessory — Have you tried a weighted blanket or sleep mask to help with anxiety? These cozy little accoutrements help quiet the mind and calm fears by providing gentle, even weight that feels like a great, big hug. The all-over weight helps relax the nervous system, boost relaxation hormones and lower stress hormones.
- Know the Facts and Statistics — Knowledge is power! It can be helpful to arm yourself with the stats and numbers surrounding plane accidents before you head out. This will help you tap into the logical side of your brain and understand that, though valid, your worst fears are highly, highly unlikely. Here are some quick facts that you should screenshot and refer to often:
- Your likelihood of dying in a plane crash is one in 11 million.
- The last fatal commercial U.S. airline crash was 12 years ago.
- In the past 12 years, only two people have died aboard a scheduled commercial airline flight in the U.S.
- Airplane accidents have a 95.7 percent survivability rate. That means that even if you were involved in an accident, you’d most likely survive it.
- According to the National Safety Council, the lifetime odds of dying in a plane crash are too small to calculate.
- Practice Mindful Breathing — Now that you’ve tapped into your rational side, it’s time to address the part of your brain that doesn’t seem to care about facts and figures. Whether you’re weeks away from your flight, are preparing to board or are taxiing on the runway, you want to learn skills to calm yourself physically. One of the best ways to do this is to practice conscious breathing techniques. This can help you slow your breathing and your heart rate so you feel physically relaxed and can settle in for a comfortable flight. If you fear a panic attack, you may want to talk to your doctor about medication or more in-depth therapies to help you relax in flight.
- Distract Yourself — At the end of the day, you aren’t going to enjoy your flight at all if you’re focusing on all the (extremely unlikely) things that could go wrong. Distracting yourself can help take your mind off your fear and anxiety so you can get through your flight without any trouble. Make sure you have a calming playlist ready as well as some episodes of lighthearted TV shows or podcasts downloaded on your phone.
Don’t let your fears keep you grounded. Gravity Blankets can help you stay cool, calm and collected whether you’re in the airport or 40,000 feet in the air. Discover the perfect weighted blanket for you and your fellow travelers (we even make a special weighted blanket for kids) as well as cozy sleep masks and other accessories that help you sit back and enjoy your flight.