10 fear of flying tips from the most followed therapists on Twitter

Tim Benjamin

I asked the most popular therapists on Twitter for quick and proven tips to reduce your anxiety.

And they’ve come through with some priceless wisdom.

As you read through the list, remember that each tip is one part of the overall solution to beating your fear.

Here’s what the therapists have to say:

1. Dr Earl Henslin

“Usually, these fears go away when people lower their baseline anxiety. To learn how, contact a brain friendly therapist. Meanwhile, you should:

  • Lower anxiety by eliminating caffeine, energy drinks and other stimulants 72 hours before you fly.
  • Load your phone/MP3 player with relaxation or meditation tracks. Practice using these long before you take a flight. That way, you’ll be practiced at slipping into a meditative state quickly.
  • If it is a long flight, take a walk every half hour. Take your time… focus on breathing deeply with each step.”

Find Dr Henslin on Twitter and his website.

2. Dr Keely Kolmes

“One tip is to lower the window shade (so you are not distracted by the scenery rushing by). Then do deep, diaphragmatic breathing. As most flights won’t allow you to listen to an audio recording during takeoff and landing, print a relaxation exercise. Then practice it during take-off.”

Find Dr Kolmes on Twitter and her website.

3. Dr Melanie Greenberg

“Take a deep belly breath for the count of four. Then slowly release it for the count of six. Like you’re blowing out a candle. That will trigger your parasympathetic nervous system. In turn, this will calm the anxiety.”

Find Dr Greenberg on Twitter and her website.

4. Dr Marion Ross

“A simple tip which is great to reduce anxiety is the Over Energy Correction. Cross the left ankle over the right, extend arms with the back of your hands facing each other, bring your right hand over your left, clasp your fingers together, fold arms and hands inward and rest on your chest just under the chin; rest your tongue on the roof of your mouth behind your front teeth and breathe deeply for 1 or 2 minutes. This exercise is very calming for acute anxiety and assists in promoting sleep.”

Find Dr Ross on Twitter and her website.

5. Dr Dan Siegel

“Focus on reducing your background anxiety by practicing mindfulness meditation daily – even if it’s just for 5 minutes.”

Find Dr Siegel on Twitter and his website.

6. Dr Lee Keyes

“Desensitization of fear is a natural process; it is already available to us in our make-up. All we have to do is tap into it and be persistent, and it will do its work for us. The main thing that prevents it from working is our failure to take advantage of it.”

Find Dr Keyes on Twitter and Facebook.

7. Dr Elisha Goldstein

“All modes of suffering – including anxiety – arise from the brain’s very simple strategy of trying to get away from here. If we can learn how to be OK with being here, a lot of suffering will cease.”

Find Dr Goldstein on Twitter and his website.

8. Dr Art Markman

“Take a lesson from exposure therapy: face your fear and don’t engage in lots of behaviors designed to make you feel safe. The plane ride will be no fun. And every bit of turbulence will put your heart into your throat. But that is the long-term recipe to overcome your fear. Over time, your anxiety will decrease, because the mechanisms in your brain will learn that the airplane does not actually signal danger.”

Find Dr Markman on Twitter and his website.

9. Mel Schwartz

“The fear of flying often correlates to control issues. When you can release control to another – in this case the pilot – the fear tends to recede.”

Find Mel on Twitter and his website.

10. Dr Linda Miles

“A good tip is to use headphones before the flight and practice self-hypnosis and relaxation. It is best to practice numerous times before the flight so that there is a practice effect.”

Find Dr Miles on Twitter and her website.

Over to you…

What’s your tip for easing anxiety? Leave something in the comments.

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25 comments

  1. Sineadnelson

    I really hope this helps. I have hated planes since the day I was born.

  2. J dog

    I will try them. The last time I flew I had several panic attacks – and high anxiety the whole flight. But I want to overcome my fear of flying as I have a trip planned in August of this year. And another next year to Mexico. So, I gotta beat this.

  3. Erica

    Lowering the window shade actually gives me more anxiety…as the plane makes movements I need to look out the window and see that the plane isn’t out of control, spinning or dropping to the ground. Basically I lose my equilibrium and need to see where the ground focus is…out the window on the earth.

    1. Tim Benjamin

      Hey Erica – great to hear you’ve found a technique that helps 🙂

  4. jennifer dee

    I have anxiety over a lot of things including flying. I am going to excersise, eat right, limit caffeine and eat lots of fruit and vegetables a week before iI am scheduled to fly across the united states.

    1. Tim Benjamin

      Hey Jennifer – that sounds like a great plan. While you’re at it, check out the 21 stress-reducing techniques that have been validated by medical researchers here.

  5. Ella R.

    For everyone speaking of being scared of flying, for this reason: You have a better chance to get struck by lightning, than in a plane crash. Sure, its possible, and has happened before. I can’t help that. But, I actually had the same problem you do. Here are some tips to stay calm during a situation like this, or extreme turbulence while flying:
    1) Breathe deeply, and thoroughly, avoid sharp breaths.
    2) Stay seated and have your seatbelt strapped on at all times. If you must get up, ask a flight attendant if you may. It may seem unhelpful to have the seatbelt on, but it reduces stress from the common use of it in the car.
    3) Order a refreshment. Something to keep your mind off of it.
    4) ALWAYS listen to the flight attendant at the beginning of the flight when they explain safety procedures, in case of a fatal incident.
    5) Watch a movie, or play on a device. It may distract you from all the commotion.
    6) Ask someone for advice, they will always be willing to help another out.
    7) Take some medication that may calm you, or help you sleep. They tend to relax you.
    That’s all! I used these myself, and I found they helped a lot. Especially 6, 7 doesn’t work as well for me considering the fact I haven’t slept in a moving vehicle since I was 4. Anyway, safe travels, and I hoped this helped!
    Enjoy your flight!

    1. Tim Benjamin

      Thanks for your tips Ella 🙂

    2. Laura

      I agree with all your tips except staying seated. For me I feel better if I can move around. I also feel better if I am flying on a 777. Seems this plane has almost no movement. I first time I flew on it I was surprised to see the plane had left the ground. If I can’t feel the plane taking off, I feel much better.

  6. Julia

    One thing that’s really helped me is putting a cup of water on your table so you can see that the plane isn’t pointing down it’s just your mind overthinking

    1. Tim Benjamin

      Nice idea Julia 🙂

  7. Samantha

    I am generally ok flying, until turbulence begins. My heart beat goes up, I feel frightened, and I have to move in my seat to sort of try and match the movement. Had a 5 hour flight yesterday, and what helped a little, was to look at family photos on my iPad. Anxiety dissipates as soon as plane lands.

  8. Sierra

    My parents have always told me that you’re more likely to get into an accident on the way to the airport than have anything going wrong while you’re on the actual plane. I am 19 and just had my first solo trip not to long ago. I love flying but I found listening to your favorite music helps when you’re in the airport becuase it is something familiar to you same goes with food becuase it’s comfortable and familiar. Good luck to all🌍🛫

  9. Tammy

    I’ve had bad anxiety for about 9 years now. Started with a severe panic attack on the highway which then caused driving anxiety. I would have panic attacks at other times as well, including being stuck in traffic or in a seminar etc. It seems that my anxiety is connected to being away from safety (ie hospitals or whatever in case of heart attack) on highway, or stuck in a small area ie. car in traffic or seminar room or airplane! Because of this, I hadn’t flown in 7 years until a couple of years ago. I first went on a 2 hour flight then 4 1/2 hr flight within a couple of months. Honestly both times I had to have a glass of wine and a clonazapam. Being on the right medication has helped over the past couple of years, the highway driving has been better (although I never go by myself). I’m going away in a month for a needed holiday (I also have anxiety when in a different country). My anxiety has crept up again with driving etc the past little while. With your post I’ve now ordered a “guided meditation” album for my iphone (I hope I can listen to it on the flight!). Anxiety is a really crapping thing to have and I always wonder whether there will be a day again where I won’t have it! Thanks for your tips I will try them all!

  10. Deb

    I have always had a fear of flying but when I lived in Ca and my family was in NJ I had to fly. I moved back to NJ and it started again. It’s been 8 years and I’m tired of driving everywhere. I am getting myself ready to take a 2 hr flight for a surprise visit to my son away in college. All of these posts have helped me. Thank you!

  11. Carly

    It is nice to know other people are struggling with these issues. I am flying to Mexico in May and am tempted to cancel my trip because I am so scared about the flight.

  12. Laura

    I had two hypnosis sessions which really helped. But the person needs to be really qualified. I also take zanax when I feel anxious before the flight and I take it again once I am on the plane. Between the two it is a lot better now.

  13. Leah

    I have taken over 300 flights and would have hoped by now, some sort of desensitisation might have kicked in. Unfortunately not. I do have some better flights thank others. That’s mostly however, when I’ve had a few red wines before the flight. I fly almost every week for work and seriously need to get over this. I think I’ve tried almost every trick in the book and sought help from many psychologists, all to no avail. I would love to hear what’s worked for fellow chronic yet acute sufferers.,

    1. Tim Benjamin

      Hey Leah – the trick is obviously to change the way you think about flying. To find out how, check out my free fear of flying guide.

  14. Sev RB

    Hello! Thanks for this article. A lot of great ideas. For the past 3 years I have had stomach problems, which worsen with anxiety. Almost all of the time it is with travelling when I am not in control. ex: skytrain, bus, plane. I am getting a lot better, but have noticed the only place my anxiety really acts up now is when I am on a plane, and we have to all be seated while we taxi out onto the runway until we are at cruising altitude. I would listen to music or watch a movie to distract myself, but during that time none of that is allowed. Any advice? I have a 9hr long flight coming up in 2 months and want to get a head start on chillin myself out, haha. Thanks!

    1. Tim Benjamin

      You’ll be glad to know that many airlines now let you watch videos and listen to audio while taxiing and taking-off 🙂

  15. Lisa Emery

    I am 49 years old and have never flown in a plane before, I am petrified of heights and the fact of not being able to be in control of my surroundings. Me and my boyfriend are going to Alaska next year for a 7 day cruise and we are flying there, believe me if I could get away with driving there I would but I know that’s not logical. I suffer from extreme anxiety, all the advice and tips that I can get would be appreciated.

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