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How Do I Handle Fear of Flying?

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From a young woman in the U.S.: I have been avoiding taking a flight back home. I am from Puerto Rico and I am currently in Michigan studying my doctorate. I would like to visit my family, but since May 2019 I have not traveled again because it causes me a lot of anxiety when I am up there.

The last time I traveled to Puerto Rico I felt that my heart was beating very fast and I was sweating throughout the flight. I try to play music or a movie to avoid thinking that I am flying, but still I cannot have a second of peace during the entire flight. The turbulence scares me a lot and I try to resist the urge to go to the bathroom during the flight.

I don’t know why I’m so scared. I have searched for information on how safe it is to fly but still I get very nervous. I want to travel and know the world but this fear prevents me from doing it. I recently got married and my husband wants to take me on a trip to Hawaii. It’s a 10 hour flight and I have never taken a flight for so many hours. I am very scared but I really want to go and I would like to know if there is any way to improve this to make me feel better while taking a flight. I would also like to visit my family more often, I miss them very much.

How Do I Handle Fear of Flying?

Answered by on -

A.

COVID-19 has made travel impossible for now. That puts off dealing with your fear of flying but doesn’t end it. Hopefully we’ll all be able to travel again. Hopefully, you’ll be able to see your family again personally and not just with group chats. Hopefully, you and your husband will be able to take that trip.

You could use the current situation as an opportunity to deal with your fears so all that will be possible. I suggest you find an online therapist to work on your anxiety. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has been found to be very effective in helping people deal with irrational fears that limit their life in some way.

CBT is problem-focused. It helps people deal with unhelpful ways of thinking and it teaches people ways to effectively manage and cope with whatever is troubling them. You will learn how to face your fear instead of avoiding it, new ways to relax yourself, and how to use problem solving skills to address your anxiety. Your therapist will probably do roleplaying with you to help you gain some practice in managing your fear of flying.

Meanwhile, there are some good self-help workbooks on CBT available from booksellers. If you can’t find a therapist, you could commit to working through one or more of those books as a way to start taking charge of your fears.

I’m very glad you wrote. You are motivated to change. Missing your family and missing out on travel with your husband are powerful incentives for you to get active in solving the problem. It may be difficult to confront your fears but I have confidence that you can do it.

I wish you well.

Dr. Marie

How Do I Handle Fear of Flying?

TALK TO A THERAPIST NOW:

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2020). How Do I Handle Fear of Flying?. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 1, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2020/04/18/how-do-i-handle-fear-of-flying/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 17 Apr 2020 (Originally: 18 Apr 2020)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 17 Apr 2020
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.