How to overcome your fear on a plane?

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Lluis Enric Mayans

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Sophrology, an ideal solution to defuse fear of flying?

With the summer period and the holidays fast approaching or which have already started for some, 20% of French people will once again have to face their fear of flying. Besides flight simulators and psychotherapy sessions, a few sophrology sessions can help manage this complex phobia. Better to start two months before its departure date to optimize its preparation based on visualization.

Learn to relax and breathe

Faced with anxiety, you have to calm your body in perpetual alert. Flying means for many people to lose control. This results in symptoms due to a "state of hyper vigilance": palpitations, shortness of breath, feeling of choking, sweaty hands, chills, dizziness, hot flashes become a nightmare.

Understanding how the airplane works (air holes, turbulence, etc.) and taming your thoughts can help, but fear is by definition visceral, hence the need to address the body. Sophrology allows you to learn relaxation and breathing techniques inducing emotional liberation and a more serene state of mind.

For example, we learn to breathe in for 4 seconds through the stomach, then breathe out for 6 seconds. This is about 6 breaths per minute.

View all stages of the journey

Like a high-level athlete who prepares his match or his ski descent from A to Z, the phobic person will be able during the session to experience all the stages of his trip from leaving his home, landing through the arrival at the airport and the critical phase of take-off. The purpose of visualization is to immerse yourself in these situations in the stillness of your body.

The term technique allows you to experience D-Day as if it were not the first time. The more you repeat an action, the more familiar it becomes and the less you think about it. The sophrologist often offers to record the sessions to continue training at home.

Know where fear comes from in the plane to overcome it

Everyone is different, so the cause of the phobia is not going to be the same in everyone. Among the anguishes, fear of accident, the technical problem and the crash are the most frequent. That of having a panic attack in flight or other phobias (claustrophobia, agoraphobia, fear of heights) are also potential causes. Sophrology has a technique that consists of getting closer mentally to a blocking situation to gradually decondition the negative association that the brain sets up. For some, the anxiety-provoking phase will be take-off, for others the arrival at the airport.

A new application, called Fofly and available for free on iOS and Android, is inspired by these different techniques with in particular a breathing exercise based on cardiac coherence to reduce anxiety once on board the device, four relaxation music and theoretical lessons.

Sophrology sessions, less expensive than the anti-stress courses offered by Air France (650 euros), cost on average 60 euros. It is necessary to count between 5 and 10 sessions to obtain effective results.

Another solution: flight simulators

If sophrology isn't appealing to you, or if you want to try a more fun way to overcome stress in an airplane, flight simulators might be right for you. Whether it's AviaSim (349 euros) or FlightAdventures (from 159 euros), these two brands usually offer aviation enthusiasts the opportunity to take control of an aircraft in an ultra-realistic simulator.

But these companies understood that aviophobes and aerodromophobes could also benefit from their expertise. Complete sessions including discussions with professional pilots and time spent in the simulator thus allow to associate theory and practise and offer great results if you are afraid of flying.

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