Many people may be feeling apprehensive about stepping onto a plane after the horror Singapore Airlines flight – but there are ways to combat pre-flight anxiousness.

Lots of holidaymakers already worry about travelling by plane, and after the recent incident that ended with one man dead and multiple passengers seriously injured, these worries may have heightened. Having a fear of flying is a real phobia, known as aviophobia or aerophobia. This is the fear or apprehension that people may get before, during or after the flight.

Now chartered Psychologist Dr Mark Rackley has shared some advice on how to get over the initial fear. He explained that anxiety works in a cyclical nature – if you feel afraid once, you will remember that feeling every time you think of flying.

Dr Rackley said: “The brain associates flying with a feeling of being scared, anxious, worried and panicked. When we do that, the brain remembers how we feel about flying and so we have an anxious response when we think about having to fly.

“Our feelings are influenced by how we think, so obviously people who have a fear of flying, have negative, threatening and fearful thoughts about flying. They see it as dangerous and possibly life-threatening.”

To reduce the feelings of flight anxiety, he explains that you need to “change the thoughts that are producing the fears.”

He added: “So, this begins by allowing yourself to challenge your thoughts and change them.” He said using rational thoughts can help do this. “Such as ‘What is the evidence that flying is dangerous?’ ‘Am I exaggerating the risk?’ Do I take other risks in my life that I don’t see as a problem?’

“It can also help to educate yourself on how flying works, flight safety and weather, to give you the knowledge to challenge the anxiety-provoking thoughts.”

Symptoms of aviophobia can include sweaty palms, an increased heart rate and an “overwhelming sense of doom” according to CALM, a leading mental health support app. Some people may even experience physical discomfort such as stomach cramps or nausea – as well as panic attacks in severe cases.

They state that spotting the symptoms is the first step to managing the anxiety so that when you get onto the plane, you can relax. “You’ve made it onto the plane and found your seat. But before you start scrolling through the in-flight movies, establish a relaxation game plan,” the experts suggested.

“Mindfulness is a known anxiety and stress-reducer. It’s a great way to centre yourself when things get a little bumpy, literally or emotionally. Visualisation can be used in the days leading up to the flight. Spend some time imagining a positive travel experience. Picture yourself breezing through security, enjoying your time in the air, and landing safely at your destination. It’s like a mental rehearsal for the real deal.”

Another relaxation technique is guided meditation. “Listen to a guided meditation track designed for relaxation or anxiety relief. Guided meditation provides a structured way to enter a state of deep relaxation and focus, making it easier for you to divert your mind away from anxious thoughts.”

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