At 30 000 feet above the ground, hurtling along at 900 km/h, it’s only natural that most people feel some degree of anxiety and stress when flying. Human beings evolved to live on land and spent millennia sailing the seas, but commercial air travel has only been widely accessible since the 1950s. As many as 40% of people experience some fear of flying, and almost everyone dislikes having to do so. But flying allows us to explore the world, visit family, go on holiday, and do business. So, why then, do so some people dislike it? One word – fear.
Many people hate flying and would prefer to avoid it altogether. But today, it isn’t easy to travel without flying – especially if you’re from Australia. Aside from having to go airborne for many hours just to leave the country, travelling from places like Perth is hard unless you’re prepared to step onto an aircraft.
But while most people simply bury those in-flight feelings of anxiousness, some of us are prone to acute panic attacks, extended bouts of stress in the run-up to a flight, and even physical symptoms that make flying a nightmare experience. This severe fear, also called clinical aerophobia, afflicts an estimated 2.5% to 6% of adults and can cause many problems in our lives, hampering our ability to travel at all.
This blog looks at what causes a fear of flying, how hypnotherapy can be used to treat this anxiousness, and how we can take to the air stress-free while transforming our travel into a calming experience.
The problem with flight
Since the Wright Brothers took to the skies over 100 years ago and the first commercial airliners started ferrying people around the globe, people have always been afraid of flying. Flying isn’t a biological norm for us. Just like people get seasick on the ocean, so too do stress levels increase when taking to the air or even thinking about it. We’re not designed to fly, so when we do, our fight or flight response kicks in. The problem is that there’s nowhere to go once those seatbelt signs have been switched on.
Aside from those terrifying Hollywood movies showing planes crashing to Earth, news of plane accidents, technical design flaws, and even the risk of warfare far below us, is enough to put the bravest of us off flying for good. And then there’s COVID…
But in truth, flying is incredibly safe. You’re 500 times more likely to die in a car crash, eight times more likely to die by electrocution, and even four times more likely to get struck (and killed) by lightning than you are to die from flying. At any given moment, there are half a million people in the skies, and with more than 180 000 pre-COVID flights per day versus an average of 8 (mostly non-fatal) commercial airliner accidents per year, the odds are in your favour.
Why people fear flying
So why the fear of flying? While we think we’re afraid of dying in an aeroplane, we’re really afraid of flying at all. Our brains just love to play out the worst-case scenario. People fear flying for numerous reasons, and thankfully, we can confront and deal with almost every single one of them, especially by using the techniques employed by hypnotherapy.
Fear of crashing – This is where people are concerned that the plane will fail or not make it to its final destination. This is one of the most common fears related to flying.
Confined spaces – People living with claustrophobia are particularly vulnerable to developing a fear of flying, and this fear of confined spaces can often be misinterpreted as aerophobia.
Less oxygen – Aircraft cabins need to be pressurized at high altitudes, but the pressure is still only equivalent to what you’d experience at the top of a 6 000 to 8 000-foot mountain peak. This can leave you feeling short of breath and on the verge of a panic attack.
Afraid of heights – While gazing over the edge of a 50-storey balcony would give most people the sweats, cruising at 30 000 feet above terra-firma can be downright terrifying for almost everyone.
Crowded space – Many of us naturally dislike being crammed into strange places with unfamiliar people. This isn’t necessarily a disorder, it’s simply a preference that can feel like a fear when we’re placed in uncomfortable situations with many people close to one another. Like on board a plane.
Germs and infection – We’re still battling the lingering effects of COVID-19, and many people are still terrified of the threat posed by the deadly virus. Despite the controversial effectiveness of vaccines and mask mandates, many people feel that air travel is a significant exposure risk to COVID and other diseases.
How Hypnocare can help you beat that fear of flying – Perth’s hypnotherapy experts
At Hypnocare, we understand that living in Perth means wanting to travel beyond Western Australia requires a need to fly. We’re here to help you deal with the fears and stresses that can come from even thinking about going airborne.
For years, we’ve helped thousands of our clients overcome the fears, stresses, anxieties, and pain caused by everyday challenges, trauma, and, yes, flying. Give us a call, or reach out to learn more about what our trained hypnotherapists can do for you.
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