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Motivate Yourself 105: Fear Of Flying

This months topic is actually down to public demand, as most days there was somebody that came through to me in one way or another asking about helping with fear of flying.
Now, if you follow the news even a little you'll probably know why that is.

First off Malaysian Airlines had a plane disappear into thin air in March and then a couple of weeks ago another one of theirs is shot out of the sky over Eastern Ukraine, which prompted a few enquiries for one to one sessions for fear of flying.
But then a week later another plane crashes in Taiwan! And then another one the very next day en route to Algeria!

So last week every time the phone rang it was almost exclusively an enquiry about helping with flying anxiety. Now, if you're catching a flight this month no-one would be surprised if you were more nervous than you normally would be.

We're a sponge for information and our experiences tell us that flying must be dangerous because there is evidence in font of us, it's on the news, it's all over Facebook everyone's talking about it so it must be true.
But can you imagine how dull the news would be if it reported every one of the planes that landed safely. In one year, air traffic controllers handle an average of 20 million flights, and so few of them crash that If a you boarded a flight at random, once a day, everyday, it would be approximately 22,000 years before you're likely to be killed!

I think we all know this but it doesn't help some people. Because if you suffer with flying phobia it's not the 20 million flights per year that are safe that gets played in your mind it's the one that crashes that you see in your imagination. So that's one of the first things to learn to deal with, your imagination.
If you do find yourself thinking about the flight and you imagine some turbulence, do make sure that you carry that vision on. Don't just imagine the turbulence. Imagine what happens next and imagine it the way you want it to be.
Imagine the turbulence stopping, and everything's fine, imagine the plane lands and everyone gets off ready to enjoy their holiday.

Maybe in the past you started a mental loop of just the turbulence, and remember that the brain doesn't know the difference between whats real and imaginary. if you imagine nothing but problems then that's what your brain will prepare you for.
And the preparation for problems is fear and anxiety, that's what its for. That's why it feels the way that it does. Anxiety pulls on the blood in your gut to send oxygen into the muscles in case you need to fight. It creates adrenaline to speed your heart up so that the oxygen gets round faster. And if you don't use the extra energy you've created and your muscles stay still then there's too much adrenaline and your muscles will shake.
Maybe if this is all it was you'd probably be OK, but the trouble is there's also what goes on in our head at that point which makes things worse.
Now pretty much all my flying phobic patients say this, yet half of them are absolutely convinced that the flight is safe, they have absolutely no expectation of it crashing at all, the fear of it crashing is not the problem, their issue is that the situation they are in is very different to what they're used to.

If you've normally got complete control and choice over what you do and where you go but for just a few hours per year you get shoved into a metal tube with a few hundred other people and told you're not allowed out it almost becomes a prison cell.
That lack of choice lack of control can trigger the fear response, the fight or flight response. And of course we can't fight or flee, so we just sit and shake, felling the urge to either run or punch someone.
Remember to breathe properly, diaphragmatic breathing is really important to help you feel in control and as there's a video HERE where I go through it. Whether your fear is of freaking out on the plane, or of the plane crashing learn to slow your body down and get more control over it.

Don't overestimate the threat, don't confuse possibility with probability! Almost everything is possible but that doesn't mean its probable. If you've trained your brain to associate aeroplanes with anxiety then you need to do the opposite. Desensitise yourself to it by imagining it going well in your mind. If you can begin to associate flying with boredom then you're on the right track and doing the same things over and over again can certainly be boring.
If you go to my youtube channel I made a playlist of in flight footage from 3 different flights. Even if watching it makes you feel a bit anxious at first, watching it again the next day is going to be much easier. But you must watch it, don't just pretend to and have it on in the background whilst you read the paper, watch it. And then again the next day and so on, believe me after a few times its not going to make you anxious anymore. You may well find it boring and the more times you can associate flying with feeling bored the better, because it builds up a habit that dilutes down the fear, you can't be scared and bored at the same time.

If you want some extra help with doing this then you know where to find me, just give me a call.
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