How can I get over my fear of having a panic attack on a plane?
Last Updated: 01/07/2019 at 5:22pm
Jackie Dross, M.S. Community Counseling
I have a passion for working with people from a non-judgmental, strengths based approach to meet their goals for personal growth.
Top Rated Answers
Anxiety is tough to get over, but you also can't let it dictate your life decisions. Learning techniques and exercises to help with your panic attacks may be good preparation for getting on a plane, try practicing these exercises in advance of flying to the point that you feel comfortable in doing them. Keep in mind that this is your life, and letting anxiety dictate that for you isn't fair to you.
There are many self help guides here on 7 cups that offer a variety of techniques that help with panic attacks. Deep breathing is one of many solutions to try.
The only way to do this is slow exposure in a controlled setting. It gets better and if you don't have time to expose your self slowly, maybe sedatives for the flight?
Easy! I suffer from this literally every time I board an aircraft. You have to remember that even though you aren't in control, it doesn't mean that bad things are likely to happen. Planes do not crash, they just don't. The physics behind it won't allow it. High air pressure goes over the wings, low air pressure under them creating the lift. Planes WILL not fall out of the sky unless they take damage already while in the air. If for some reason there is engine failure (VERY unlikely due to the rigorous prechecks), a standard aircraft can glide up to 20 feet per mile of altitude, allowing pilots up to 5 miles to find the nearest airport to land. As for bumps, what got me to calm down over them is realizing how normal they are! By FAA regulation, if turbulence is bad enough to completely KNOCK your drink onto the floor, it is classified as "Mild Turbulence". Planes are built to withstand unimaginable turbulence. Storms? No chance. Planes actually get struck by lightning often, they are designed to absorb it. The take away is even though you're likely to feel anxious, just remember deep down that everything that happens is completely normal. If it wasn't, riding in a plane would be much less sought after! Source = Flight School
You can practice breathing exercises in the event of a panic attack and constantly reassure yourself
Take deep breaths and tell yourself it will be over soon and will just be a memory. This always helps me when I am anxious about something, I know it will have to end eventually so I just tell myself it will soon become a memory.
There is this amazing scientifically proven trick that works for anxiety and panic attacks. Your body during the moment you feel fearful is in the exact same state as the state your body is in the moment you feel excitement. The only difference is what is going on in the brain. What you do to turn that fear around and preventing a panic attack is to trick your brain into believing you are actually excited! So, you know you will be on a plane soon. The first step you can take is to create an anchor thought. An anchor thought is a vision in your head, a certain memory that makes you feel happy and excited. The subject matter should have to do with your flight. Maybe you are flying to a place you are eager to visit or somewhere you have been before and have great memories of. Once you have that anchor thought, write it down to memorize it and take the note with you. When the fear starts coming up, count back from 5. Then, envision that anchor thought of yours. For example, tell yourself; ’’Hey! I am going to Paris for the first time, I can’t wait to see the city and gather such an experience. That’s why my heart is racing and my palms are sweaty, I am excited!’’. You see, by combining that anchor thought along with telling yourself and tricking your brain into believing you are excited, the physical symptoms will be explained away, therefore preventing a panic attack induced by fear. Instead, you will be left with a high of excitement. Good luck, I hope this is helpful!
Take a friend on the plane with you, consider relaxation techniques and maybe even some medication. It also might be helpful to learn some breathing exercises. But most importantly, always give yourself permission to change your mind.
I find that reading, coloring or having a small stuffed animal helps me allot and just having a PRN in my bag (such as xanex) if I need it. You can also talk with other passengers before boarding and maybe tell them about your anxiety. Many will relate to how you feel and will support you.
Read up on how to cope with fear. The 7cups guide on anxiety is very helpful and has some exercises that you can do before a flight :) Panic attacks are nothing to be afraid of if you understand what your body is feeling and how your mind blows out of proportion.
Take deep breaths with your diaphragm. Reassure yourself that you are safe, and realize your feelings are completely valid.
Over the pat years, I have noticed that plane rides have become a nerve-racking experience for me, especially it it is an international flight. From personal experience, the best way to get over the fear of having a panic attack on a plane is to feel as comfortable as possible on the plane, take some deep breaths and drink plenty of water. Also, sucking on candy or chewing gum helps as a distraction. Finding things to distract you from remembering you are on a plane are also good. All in all, you will be ok :)
You might want to talk to a doctor about this, because there are several prescriptions that could help you with this, if you're that worried. Otherwise, come up with some coping mechanisms and distractions.
Panic attacks can be tricky to deal with, most of the time they do occur randomly. With the fear of having a panic attack on a plane you have to discover why you are worried about this issue. You have to try and think of the best and worst outcomes of this situation, and really find out why this fear is present in your life, only then can you find a lasting solution. I completely understand how you feel regarding panic attacks, they truly are frightening. I do not know the extent of the situation and the circumstances regarding the situation and can not offer a solution to your fear you must do that for yourself.
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