What is the fear of flying and how do you get rid of it?  Do not drink coffee or alcohol before the flight

What is the fear of flying and how do you get rid of it? Do not drink coffee or alcohol before the flight

World-famous former Dutch soccer player Denis Bergkamp broke out in the 1990s, sweating just at the thought of an airplane. Why is one whistling on a plane for vacation in Tenerife, while the other wants to run home trembling on his legs?

“Some people are naturally very anxious, and therefore more likely to develop a fear of flying,” says Ellis Tryssesone, MD, a clinical psychologist at Pilaar in Tielt. “Fear is the mechanism of human survival. It is in our instincts, it keeps us sharp. Suppose a lion breaks into your garden and you are not afraid and run away, you will simply be crushed.”

However, a high degree of irrationality plays a role in the fear of flying. “You visualize, magnify thoughts of all proportions and imagine the worst of things. What you think is no longer proportional to reality. This is a clear difference with stress, where the severity of symptoms corresponds to the significance of the situation. Then you experience the ‘correct’ tension. In fear, the intensity is not plausible because they are related to subjective factors that do not elicit a response in other people,” says Tresison. “Thoughts like: ‘There’s always turbulence’ or ‘My plane is going to crash.’ But if you’ve never been on a plane before, you don’t know if there’s always turbulence, right?”

latent fears

To test irrational thoughts against reality, exposure is necessary, according to the psychologist. “In behavioral psychology we call this ‘exposure’: the more effective the flight, the faster the fear goes away. Because you’ll notice that in your head it was a lot bigger than necessary. Get rid of your fears gradually, by taking a short flight first, not straight to America “.

Those who are afraid of flying often experience strong emotional and physical reactions. “Symptoms can be as severe as someone with hyperventilation,” Tresison agrees. Panic attacks, chest pressure, malaise, insomnia, dizziness, nausea. People often freeze. Anyone who thinks they will lose all control or has other underlying fears, such as claustrophobia, can become very emotional while flying. After all, each type of fear can turn into a different type of fear. So it is important to trace the origin. Maybe someone isn’t afraid to get on the plane, but wants to maintain control over what’s going on around him or her.”

It is important during exposure how you deal with your fear. “At first the fear was very intense. If you can calm yourself down and say it’s OK to be afraid, you will hit a plateau, and then go down anyway. What definitely helps: Information gathering! Read about planes and their safety. Planes don’t crash often. Read about the turmoil. You’ll find out it’s not that bad. Also: Plan your trip in advance. Pack your bag, get your tickets, check ahead if you can, check the Covid rules. Then you don’t have to worry about these things.”


But what if you remain anxious? “Apply breathing techniques, and inhale and exhale deeply,” the psychiatrist advises. “Don’t drink coffee or alcohol before the flight. They only trigger fear and anxiety. Bring a comforting book or watch a movie that will calm you down. Moreover: Take your partner’s hand or tell those around you about your concerns. They can often reassure you. Also install reassuring thoughts in Yourself: “I get scared and that’s okay, but I trust the information I researched and the knowledge and skills of the crew.” If you still don’t dare get on the plane, I recommend going to therapy with a psychologist or cognitive behavioral therapist. There are even airlines that regulate Courses to help you overcome your fear of flying.

Of course, having overcome your fear during the outbound trip, you also have to go home. You already have a plus: “I have already experienced that the plane did not crash and everything is not so bad. Fear and pleasure can coexist perfectly. ”

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