Fear of flying by plane: tips to overcome your phobias
Summer is already here and with it the expected and well-deserved vacation Have you already chosen the destination of your trip? Or, however, you are one of those who prefer to stay close to home fear of flying by plane... If you join the latter, the time has come to overcome your phobias.
Why do we have fears?
The human being has certain evolutionary fears encoded in genes. Having survived as a species for thousands of years, there are certain stimuli that are more likely to generate emotions of anxiety or fear.
It is the case of fear to fly. For the human being, there is no more artificial situation than getting into a giant metal tube that flies 10,000 meters high.
What are phobias?
Phobias are intense and irrational fears to certain stimuli. The people who suffer them know perfectly, on a rational level, that the chances of something terrible happening are few. However, there is a high emotional activation when interacting with that feared stimulus.
It also happens with the fear of flying. Fear not only triggers when we get on the plane, but at the mere thought of it, we can feel anxiety. Therefore, it is common that situations such as boarding, packing or booking the flight, generate anguish.
Why are phobias maintained over time?
In all the problems of fear or anxiety, the variable that explains the maintenance of the problem is the avoidance of these stimuli.
When we avoid or escape what frightens us, we confirm to our brain that it is really dangerous, so that it reinforces the association between emotional activation and phobic stimuli.
We have to keep in mind that in reality phobias are triggered by stimuli that are not dangerous. Being afraid of the lions is totally normal and adaptive, and escaping from them will help us save our lives. So far from posing a problem, it will be a great advantage.
What I want to convey to you with this is that you do not have to overcome all the fears, there are many of them that help us to stay alive.
If we manage to face our fears, and these do not materialize in real danger, the brain will disconfirm that these stimuli are dangerous, and little by little the emotional activation will go down.
How to overcome the fear of flying?
Exposure to these types of situations is the most effective therapy to eliminate phobias. But one of the keys to success is exposing oneself frequently to stimuli. We do not have to do it all at once, we can make a hierarchy of situations that generate fear or anxiety and overcome them little by little.
But in the case of the fear of flying, there is a problem. We do not usually have the opportunity to ride a plane every day. So what can we do to travel by plane without fear?
1. Use the imagination. There is no need for the situation to be live to overcome the phobia of flying. Both the exposure in imagination and virtual reality have proven to be effective in eliminating these types of fears. Above all, when it comes to preparing ourselves to live the real situation and not having a bad time.
2. Virtual reality glasses. In some psychology clinics, virtual reality glasses are available to simulate a flight and associated situations. I assure you that it is tremendously realistic and works really well, but the reality is that having this cutting-edge technology is not common. So we can try with certain tricks like simulated videos.
3. Videos. We can search videos on the internet recorded on airplanes. If for example we are afraid to take off, we can make a selection of four or five videos, get comfortable in a chair or a sofa (if it looks like the seats of the plane, better) and watch it until the anxiety goes down.
If we do this every day, we will see that little by little the activation is being less. As I said before, it is useful to sort videos in a hierarchy from lower to higher level of anxiety. This will make it easier for us and we will suffer less when we overcome our phobia.
4. Go to the psychologist. Anyway, it must be said that a specific phobia (the technical name of the fear to fly), it is a defined disorder and therefore the best option is to go to a professional psychologist. In this way we will make sure that a psychologist supervises the hierarchical exposure to this type of stimulus.
Summer is a perfect time to invest time in yourself and overcome irrational fears. It is a time when we have more hours for us to work on our personal development.
Overcome your fears. You already know where to start. This vacation that nothing prevents you from packing.
Jesus Matos. Psychologist expert in sadness and well-being management, founder of En Equilibrio Mental.
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