Living with anxiety – Fear of flying

Yes you read the title right, I am afraid of flying. Actually let me take that back, I am not afraid, I am TERRIFIED.

Every single time I head to the airport, my anxiety goes out of control, I sweat, I bite my nails, I get teary, I snap at people… I HATE it, I just hate it.

Ironic isn’t? Knowing that 90% of the content I post on this blog has been created thanks to plane rides.

Why am I writing this today? Well I will be flying to Italy in exactly 3 days, 8 hours and 45 minutes… Yes. I am counting the minutes…

Why am I scared? I worked a lot to better understand my phobia. It seems to be a combination of being off the ground, with nothing holding me on to it, and the drama associated with plane crash (horrific headlines, terrifying movies…). It is good to note that I cannot go on very high roller coasters, neither could I ever go bungee-jumping. I am basically afraid of falling, being aware of it and knowing that the outcome will not be good.

What makes it worse though is that 1) my true passion is travelling and 2) I hate myself for hating it. You cannot imagine my envy when looking at people falling at sleep before takeoff or giggling through turbulence.

For those of you afraid of flying and reading this, you are probably wondering if there is any magical cure? Well, the answer so far has been ‘no’ for me. I just suffer it.

HOWEVER, there is a few things I do that help me. Because there is one thing I always told myself, I refuse to limit what I do in life because of this phobia!

***Note that some of the item listed below would be considered unhealthy and I am in no mean trying to encourage people to drink or take medication. I am simply sharing what works for me. Also note that I have a very sever fear of flying with genuine panic attacks associated so the measures I am taking are justified for me NOT for someone who is just ‘worried’ when flying***


  • Hypnotherapy – It actually works! My parents who are both doctors explained to me that for it to work you need to find the right therapist. So if you tried without success, try again but with someone different. In my case, as I have been afraid of flying since adolescence, I need a session each year in order to improve. I wouldn’t say that it cured me but it very much helped me manage my fear. I have a few exercises to do ahead of the flight and during takeoff which help me pretend (for now) that I am okay.
  • A glass of wine – My best friend on short flights! I know it sounds wrong but it is the only time I am drinking to forget how I feel, so I do not have a drinking problem. Also when I say ‘A’ glass I really mean one glass or two max! A drink help relax a little, too many will just make you feel miserable, don’t do that.
  • Medications – As my fear can get emotionally unmanageable, and with the agreement of my doctor, I can take a prescribed calming pill for short flights and a prescribed sleeping pill on long-hauls. This obviously really does help but it should only be done if you have a very serious fear of flying and after seeing a doctor.
  • A compassionate neighbour – Having someone to talk to on flights is the best medicine. Seeing my sit neighbour relaxed and having a very normal conversation help me relax. That is until we hit turbulence, if so, I just cannot talk anymore but still hearing people talking normally helps!

So if you are like me just remember that you are not on your own. 🙂

If you are not afraid of flying but sit next to someone nervous, maybe engage in small talks? Tell them a little joke? They will thank you for it, as soon as the wheels touch the ground.


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