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How To Get Rid Of Your Fear of Flying

By: Julie Michelle Smith

3. Learn to relax

People with fear of flying are sometimes also referred to as the 'white knuckle brigade', referring to the strength with which they cling to their armrests. Relaxing your muscles is a skill you need to learn. It helps you to prevent slipping into a vicious circle of 'feeling tense - feeling afraid - feeling even tenser- starting to panic'. If you notice your muscles are starting to get tense, you need to intervene.

Relax your muscles by breathing slowly and steadily through your nose. Tense the muscles in your toes, then relax them. Work up to the muscles in your lower legs, upper legs, all the way up to your neck (don't forget your arms.) Your muscles should feel warm and heavy, not cold and tense.

Start doing relaxing exercises weeks before you board the plane. That way it'll be easier to relax once you're actually on the plane.

4. Don't stress out

When you're about to fly, it's important to avoid stress. For instance, take the time to pack your suitcase. Make use of a checklist, so you won't need to worry about whether you have everything you need. If you want to, you can also take a few days off in advance, so you'll have all the time you need to prepare for your flight. Don't do everything at the last moment.

Make sure you arrive at the airport on time. If you have to wait in line when checking in, don't get worked up about it. Have some bottled water with you, enjoy the atmosphere, and look around you to see who your fellow passengers are. If your plane is delayed, make the most of it: use the time to read a magazine, eat something or talk to other passengers.

5. Let others know about your fear

You're not the only one who has a fear of flying. Let the people you're travelling with know how you feel, so they can be supportive to you, for instance when you're doing breathing exercises.

If you let the flight attendants know about your fear, they'll check up on you often to see how you're doing. Sometimes it's even possible to see the cockpit and meet the pilots before the flight. If you're in the air and you hear noises that scare you, ask the flight attendants for more information. They're used to passengers with fear of flying and won't think your questions are ridiculous.

(Sources: Own experience + Reader's Digest July 2008 and Guide to Psychology)

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