The airplane started bouncing and all I could think was this is not happening; I can’t die on a work trip.
Flight attendants had to sit the entire duration of the flight — there was no beverage service. It was a survive-the-flight kind of trip. I kept looking around at all of the other passengers to see if they were freaking out like me. They weren’t. Some were asleep, some were laughing and talking, others were eating. Even the flight attendants, though seated, were in good spirits.
That’s when I knew I had it: Aviophobia.
Aviophobia: A noun — subcategorized under psychiatry — is described as the fear of flying in an airplane or other aircraft.
I didn’t know it even existed until recently, but the feelings I have when on an airplane are all too real to ignore. I can’t breathe or concentrate. I get sweaty palms, a heart that could pound its way out of my chest at any moment, muscle tension and sometimes I’m jittery all at the thought of a bumpy flight.
Lucky for me, I have a very wonderful mother-in-law who was a flight attendant for years and has told me on several occasions “Oh darling, you’ll be completely fine; turbulence is normal and won’t crash an airplane.” So that script usually runs through my head about 1,000 times per second while an airplane jostles around mid-air.
Pre-children I traveled the country for business regularly. While flying was never something I loved to do, it certainly didn’t keep me from flying across the U.S.
Then I had kids.
Having children seemed to exacerbate the issue; all of a sudden I have little people to take care of and crashing in a plane was not on the agenda.
Also lucky for me, my son absolutely thinks he’s going to be a pilot or an astronaut, either of which sounds absolutely death-defying to me. I guess he got his genes from my husband’s side of the family.
With another impending trip on the agenda, I’ve tried to do some research to lessen the effects of aviophobia. The tips that stood out to me are listed below:
- No alcohol and stay hydrated.
- Slow, deep breathing techniques, or even breathing through a straw.
- Muscle relaxation exercises.
- Writing my name over and over with my non-writing hand.
- Education on airplanes and turbulence — some airports and airlines even offer additional information or classes to those who are interested.
Thankfully my bouncy flight that day landed safely without any cause for concern. I’m really glad that I know the pilots are trained to guide large aircraft through the skies among all sorts of conditions, and I am NOT the one in charge.
If I was, we would have landed somewhere in the middle of the desert and had to walk to our final destination, which of course sounds much worse than a few little bumps in an airplane.