All Posts Tagged: aerophobia

13 Ways to Overcome Travel Anxiety

The summer travel season is just kicking off. Scores of tourists are excitedly packing their luggage and consulting websites or glossy brochures as they anticipate their upcoming vacations. While the idea of seeing new places or relaxing in cozy, familiar locations is appealing to most people, there are those who find the whole idea of travel frightening. It’s hard to get excited about new adventures when the mere thought of taking a trip brings up travel anxiety.

Here’s How to Help Your Travel Anxiety

For some, just being out of their home and familiar surroundings can be enough to bring on travel anxiety, especially if you suffer from panic attacks. Meeting new people or experiencing new foods can also make people feel insecure, plus worrying about how you’ll react emotionally may trigger anxiety.

If you have travel anxiety these tips should help you feel more in control:

  • Plan for your anxiety. Brush up on your coping skills and bring along items you know will help you stay calm. For example, you might check to be sure your favorite music is downloaded to your phone or you might tuck your favorite pillow into your suitcase so you’ll be sure to get some restful sleep.
  • Practice relaxation techniques before your trip, so you can use them the minute you start to feel anxious.
    • Focus on a calming image in your mind or on an object you can physically see to take your mind off your fears. Concentrating on a book or watching a movie is distracting and can keep you from stressing over the unfamiliar.
    • Use affirmations, such as “I am safe,” to calm your thoughts.
    • Long, slow breaths have been proven to reduce anxiety and it’s worth it to learn deep breathing techniques. Breathing in slowly through your nose, then exhaling gradually through your mouth helps keep you from taking the short, hurried breaths that can trigger a panic attack.
    • Learn to meditate, which has been proven to reduce stress and boost overall health. Meditation can be done in so many ways – did you know that getting lost in music or even daydreaming are forms of meditation? Regular meditation practice can build long-term resilience.
  • Remind yourself of why you’re traveling. Picture your life a year from now – will you regret not having gone to your destination?
  • Because anxiety often stems from a feeling that you’re not in control, plan the first few days of your trip in detail. Look for photos of the airport and its terminals, explore the city’s subway system or figure out local transportation, look for your hotel on a maps website, and check out nearby restaurant and read their reviews. Having the details handy helps to keep your from worrying about the unexpected.
  • Join a community. There are many online forums or local support groups for anxiety sufferers where you can talk about your travel fears and find support.

If you’re scared of flying (also called aerophobia), these tips can help make your next flight the best you’ve ever taken:

  • Travel with a companion who is an experienced flyer. Having someone there to explain what the various sounds of flying mean or to walk you through the procedures associated with flying (security checks, boarding passes, terminals, etc), can go a long way toward calming nervousness. If they can sit next to you, they can help distract you with conversation, play games to keep your mind off of flying, or give your encouragement.
  • Be sure to talk with your travel companion before you board so they are aware of your fears and they know what you need. For example, if you don’t like to be touched, they should be told they shouldn’t try to hold your hand during a tense moment, which could increase your anxiety.
  • Avoid alcohol, which can alter the way your brain reacts and may increase your travel anxiety.
  • Practice relaxation techniques before your flight, then keep using them from the minute you reach the airport.
    • Focus on an object you can see or on a calming image in your mind.
    • Take in slow, long breaths through your nose and exhale slowly through your mouth.
    • Try tensing each part of your body for ten seconds, then slowly relax it and move on to another body part (example: tense your right hand for ten seconds, then relax and tense your right arm for ten more seconds. Repeat on your left side, then move to your legs, etc.).
  • Listen to your favorite, calming music on your phone or other device or watch a movie or television show.
  • Try the SOAR app for Android or iOS. Part of the SOAR fear of flying program, developed by Capt. Tom Bunn, a former U. S. Air Force pilot and commercial jet pilot, the app has reassuring features like a built-in G-force meter that reads your plane’s current turbulence so you’ll know the jet can sustain it. It also links to weather and turbulence forecasts and allows you to download videos of Capt. Bunn walking you through each step of the flight process so you know what’s happening in the cockpit and on the plane.
  • Exercise before you fly. The endorphins from exercise are calming and will help dissipate your nervous energy. If you can’t exercise before your trip, try walking around the terminal to distract yourself and to keep your muscles loose, which helps reduce travel anxiety.
  • Consider booking a seat towards the front of the plane and along the aisle, so you don’t feel hemmed in or like you’re in a tunnel. Seats toward the front may cost more, but the additional expense can be worth it for more leg room, making it easier to relax.

If you’ve tried some of these tips on previous trips and they haven’t worked for you, consider seeking help from a mental health professional. They may prescribe medications to help ease your travel anxiety and often have programs that teach coping techniques you can use when you’re scared of flying. Some even offer virtual reality sessions that simulate the flying experience in manageable doses in a safe office setting, so you can conquer your fears before even setting foot on a plane.

Get Help for Travel Anxiety

If you’re still facing travel anxiety after trying our tips to reduce your stress over an upcoming trip, the mental health professionals at The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida can help. For more information, contact us or call us today at 561-496-1094.

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Fear of Flying – Help in South Florida

Anxiety disorders affect millions of people in the United States. Typically, anxiety disorders are characterized by extreme fear, nervousness, or worry about something specific (for example: fear of public speaking or a fear of social situations). These worries lead the person to avoid specific places or activities. One of the most common fears is a fear of flying, and it is often brought to the forefront in people who suffer from it by media coverage of airplane crashes such as the recent Asiana Airlines disaster in San Francisco.

As with any anxiety, fear of flying (also known as aerophobia or aviophobia) leads people to experience irrational thoughts of the possibility that something will happen when they fly, even though the odds against being hurt or killed in a plane crash are enormous. This fear of flying can be from anxiety over the actual process of flying or can be from a combination of several anxiety components that are not all specific to airplanes. These components can include:

  • Fear of dying
  • Fear of enclosed spaces (claustrophobia)
  • Worry that you will be sick in front of other passengers if your plane hits turbulence
  • Not being in control
  • Fear of heights
  • Fear of terrorism

Physically and emotionally, the symptoms that come with a fear of flying are similar to those seen in most generalized anxiety disorders. The physical symptoms can include:

  • Chest pain
  • Heart palpitations
  • Being easily startled
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Sweating and nausea
  • Muscle tension
  • Shortness of breath or rapid breathing

Emotional symptoms can include:

  • Negative expectancies
  • Impaired memory
  • Poor or clouded judgment
  • Narrowed perceptions

Because flying anxiety can ruin family vacations and make it impossible for business people to travel, it is beneficial to try one of the many effective ways to cope with a fear of flying:

  • Know what to expect: educating yourself to understand the sounds and sensations of flying can help you realize the aircraft will not fall apart during flight
  • Realize that being paralyzed with fear will not make you any safer
  • Avoid watching disaster movies or media coverage about airplane crashes prior to your flight. Keep in mind that, for every plane crash, thousands of other planes make it safely to their destination
  • If you are claustrophobic, choose an aisle seat so you don’t feel closed in
  • Focus on something that can help you relax instead of focusing on your fear. Bring a book, a puzzle book, music, an iPad or tablet with you while you travel. These distractions give you something else to focus on.

If your fear of flying can’t be overcome with one of these techniques, contact a mental health professional. They can help you find relief through:

  • Behavioral therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy or desensitization, which can help you replace your negative thoughts with positive, realistic ones
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Exposure therapy where people experience simulated flying to help manage their anxiety and overcome their fears
  • Medications

The fear of flying can be debilitating, but it can be treated and overcome. For more information on how you can overcome fear of flying, Dr. Andrew Rosen at 561-496-1094 or email Dr. Rosen today.

 

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Boca Raton Psychologist Discusses Fear Of Flying

Millions of people across the country suffer from a variety of anxiety disorders. The typical disorder is characterized by extreme fear, nervousness, or worry that leads a person to avoid specific places or activities. Dr. Andrew Rosen, a Boca Raton psychologist, notes that one of the most commonly known fears is a fear of flying. He says that, as with any anxiety, there is an irrational exaggeration of the possibility of something bad happening even though the risk of being hurt or killed in a plane crash is one in many millions. Additionally, a fear of flying can involve several components of anxiety that are not specific to airplanes. These components can include:

  • Not understanding the reasons for strange sounds and sights around you
  • Being dependent on the judgment of an unknown person (in this case, the pilot)
  • Fear of heights
  • Dislike or fear of enclosed spaces or crowded conditions
  • Sitting in hot, stale air
  • The possibility of terrorism

The physical and emotional symptoms associated with a fear of flying are similar to those seen in most anxiety disorders. The physiological symptoms can include:

  • Muscle tension and labored breathing
  • Chest pain and/or heart palpitations
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Flushed or pale face

The psychological symptoms can include:

  • Impaired memory
  • Narrowed perceptions
  • Poor or clouded judgment
  • Negative expectancies

The Boca Raton psychologist says there are many coping strategies that can be effective when working through a fear of flying, such as:

  • Expanding your awareness beyond the unpleasant situation. Realize that being paralyzed with fear will not make you any safer.
  • Understanding that your anxiety won’t disappear overnight. Celebrate even the smallest successes you have, such as making it to the airport, then making it on to the plane, then getting through the takeoff. Take one thing at a time.
  • Focusing on what you can do to relax instead of focusing on your fear. Many people bring books, puzzle books, music, or computers with them while they travel. Having something like this gives you something else to focus your energy on.

The fear of flying can be a debilitating anxiety but it can certainly be treated and overcome. For more information on this or other anxiety disorders and their treatment methods, contact Boca Raton psychologist, Dr. Andrew Rosen at 561-496-1094 or email Dr. Rosen today.

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