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FLYING is one of the safest ways to travel. You have only a one in 11 million chance of being involved in an air crash —- and are far more likely to be injured or killed while in a car; on a bicycle, swimming or crossing a road.

Yet up to one in three of us admits to anxiety about air travel. Those who suffer often claim it makes holidays abroad something they  avoid — and anyone who has an aviophobic in the family will confirm sitting next to them in a packed plane can be a testing experience.

But it is a very treatable phobia. Here, I  explain how under-standing why there’s no need to be afraid is the first step to overcoming the problem.

Passenger Jet Flying 737

DON'T FOCUS ON BAD THINGS
If I say to you don’t think of an elephant, what do you do? You think of an elephant. Thinking ‘l don’t want to panic’ ends up in you focusing on panic. Focusing on thoughts such as I feel totally relaxed, I am calm,’ will stop worry.

ASK FOR HELP
Tell the cabin staff that you have a fear of flying when you board. Don’t be embarrassed about it —- staff are used to phobics. They will look after you if you happen to get scared.  This also will take some
of the pressure off you, as you will have a professional nearby who understands your situation.

BREATHE
Many people don’t realise that when they are anxious they shallow-breathe from the upper part of their abdomen, which will automatically make them more anxious. When we are relaxed, we breathe from the lower part of our abdomen. So if you feel yourself becoming scared, place your hand on your lower abdomen and feel your hand expand and contract as you take some nice, deep breaths.

GET THE FACTS
Our minds tend to jump to conclusions. But an unusual noise or movement on the plane doesn’t mean some-thing bad is about to happen. Turbulence is a great example: flying phobics panic over every bump or jolt thinking something dreadful will happen. But it is normal, like bumps in the road when we’re driving a car. Even severe turbulence, while uncomfortable, isn’t dangerous. There are numerous books aimed at phobics that explain what all the odd noises and feelings actually are. Alternatively, ask cabin staff if something worries you instead of making things up in your head.

WATCH WHAT YOU DRINK
Avoid caffeine, as stimulants will exacerbate your anxiety. Drink water, as dehydration only contributes to the fear process. it's a terrible idea to drink alcohol to overcome nerves; it dehydrates, and can make you feel worse at the end of the flight.

DON'T PLAY YOURSELF NEGATIVE ‘MIND MOVIES’
Phobics have a natural tendency to play the worst-case scenario ‘movie’ in their minds when their fears are at the forefront of their thoughts. Learn how to control these movies by building up a positive scenario in your mind: Picture yourself getting to the airport, getting on the plane, enjoying a chat with a friend, arriving safely. Elite athletes do the same thing by picturing themselves winning a race rather than worrying about losing it.

DON'T BE LATE
Leave plenty of time to get to the airport. There is nothing worse for adding to stress than sitting in heavy traffic wondering if you are going to make it for your flight. So avoid being late at all costs.

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU SAY TO YOURSELF
A negative internal monologue has a big effect. A phobic might start thinking ‘I don’t want to die,’ but such words create fear. We are in control of this self-talk. Instead say: ‘Flying is safe. The pilot is trained and in control.’

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Slideshow Bob’s Star Sign is Aquarius.

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