Subject: fear of flying?!
Dear Kim

I am also an anxious flyer and have developed some strategies that you or others might find helpful. Unlike you, I personally know no one that has died in an air crash, but a member of my family was killed by a drunk driver. I feel that I am in so much more danger in an automobile than in an airplane. I share this because remembering the statistical safety evidence helps me when flying: I remind myself that I am in much less danger in an airplane than when on the ground.

You may notice that I have stopped saying that I am afraid of flying, or that flying freaks me out, or whatever, and now say, I am an anxious flyer. I find that the words that I apply to the situation have a huge effect on my feelings, thus I carefully monitor how I think and speak about flying.

I also practice something suggested to me by a friend, that she termed mindfulness. Whenever I am feeling particularly frightened, I try to be very mindful of what I am doing at that moment, even if it is just breathing. Concentrating on an act distracts me from my fear and dissipates it.

That said, I like to have something to do on a flight, that I can be mindful of. I often stick my correspondence and bills in an envelope, along with postage, etc., and write them out on the plane. Or I take along any other active writing project I might have. I don't enjoy puzzles, but if I did, you can bet I would take them along. I make sure I have plenty of entertaining reading material with me.

I also do whatever I can to maximize my comfort while flying. I find that the more comfortable I am, the less my anxiety gets to me. Neck pillows, water, moisturizer, a full complement of over the counter medications like antacids, motion sickness medicine, etc., are always with me. I also take ear plugs along, and wear comfortable clothes.

I pray and meditate too. Sometimes my fearful feelings happen in the day or so before a flight, and I really have to practice meditation, mindfulness, etc., to get ready. I remind myself that courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to walk through it. It is my philosophy that I was created, at least partially, to enjoy the life I have been given, and travel is a gigantic part of my enjoyment. So I'm flying, and fighting fear!

It has taken me years to develop this set of tools to combat my feelings about flying. I could tell you a few horror stories about some of the chemical methods I tried over the years, but suffice it to say that I now have some strategies that work for me. I hope sharing them with you helps.

Have a great day, Debbie in Pittsburgh