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How to relax before flying?

Whether it's a real phobia or not, many travelers experience anxiety as their flight approaches. Insomnia, stomach aches, clammy hands and muscle tension are not simply "in your head" symptoms. Physical symptoms can be accompanied by real psychological distress. So how can you relax before a plane trip? What methods and tips can help you relax before take-off? And what should you do once you've boarded the plane? Let's take a look.
Published on August 30th, 2023

What are the different reasons for fear of flying?

It can be a simple case of temporary stress, or a genuine anxiety, also known as aviophobia or aerodromophobia. The causes of this fear of flying vary from person to person, but a few reasons are fairly recurrent.

You may have had a memorable experience on a previous flight. Turbulence can be impressive the first time. However, Philippe Goeury, cabin attendant and instructor of anti-stress courses, reminds us that it's a simple phenomenon comparable to a speed bump on the road or a wave on the open sea. Ultimately, what's scary is the unknown, and the imagination that runs wild in the face of such uncertainty.

Informing yourself can help to take the fear out of the situation. Air travel remains the safest mode of transport. Just look at the statistics and compare them with other modes of transport. What's more, in the aeronautical field, stringent checks are carried out on a regular basis.

Fear of flying can also stem from other underlying anxieties. Some people have a strong need for control, making it difficult to let go. For others, the idea of being trapped in an aircraft brings back claustrophobia or agoraphobia.

The importance of taking action before flying: getting ready to relax

To reduce the stress of your trip as much as possible, it's important to be well organized. Anticipation is key, and it's best to avoid last-minute preparations that will inevitably ratchet up the tension.

So prepare your flight documents well in advance. Check the identity documents required for your destination, and verify their validity. Pack your luggage well in advance, respecting the recommendations on authorized and prohibited items, their packaging, and the dimensions and weights accepted for suitcases. Include in your hand luggage items to keep your mind occupied during the flight: mandalas, music, a film, a book, accessories for a comfortable night's sleep, etc.

Visualize the different stages from arrival at the airport to landing: check-in, security checks, boarding, take-off... This way, the situations you'll experience during the day will already seem familiar.

Relaxation tips for the day of your flight

We strongly advise you not to look at the weather forecast on the day of your flight, and not to consume stimulating drinks. Instead, wear casual clothes to feel comfortable, drink herbal teas and arrive at the airport with a comfortable head start, so you don't panic at the ticking clock. To save time, you can also check in online and check your luggage the day before.

Always keep in mind the reasons for your trip, whether it's for business or pleasure. Focusing on the goal will help you cope better with the few hours of flying ahead of you.

Don't hesitate to share your concerns with the crew before take-off. Flight attendants can help you cope with your anxiety during the flight.

Once on board, you may feel a state of panic coming over you. Sophrology, cardiac coherence and meditation can all help calm the looming anxiety attack:

  • Cardiac coherence is a relaxation technique that consists in basing your breathing on a calmer heartbeat, with phases of inhalation and exhalation averaging five seconds each.
  • Abdominal breathing is another relaxing method. Used in sophrology, the exercise begins with one hand on your navel. Inhale for a few seconds, then exhale twice as much, concentrating on your breath rather than what's going on around you.

Good to know: there are many apps available to guide you through the learning process.

Self-medication is not recommended to treat fear of flying. It's best to discuss it with your doctor to find a suitable solution.