Millions of Americans will take to the skies to visit friends and family for Christmas, but it’s not going to be the “happiest time of the year” as the song says for many of them. That’s because travel anxiety – especially a fear of flying – is one of the most common anxiety issues today.
Combine that fear of flying with the crowds, the rush, the waiting, weather delays and the other stressors of the season, and some people become so overwhelmed they are unable to travel.
The good news is there are steps that can be taken to overcome fear of flying, and it doesn’t take long to do and can help even the most anxious traveler relax.
Why Hypnosis Works to Overcome Fear of Flying
Most people have heard of the “conscious” and “subconscious.”
The conscious mind is the director, or the decision maker. What we experience through our senses is filtered by the conscious mind and shaped into our sense of reality.
The subconscious is a little trickier. From the subconscious comes our urges, or our more primal motivations such as fear, joy and anger.
Related: The Incredible Power of Self-Talk
The conscious mind acts as the gatekeeper of information, and tries to protect us by deciding what is a threat and what is safe. Occasionally events that are not truly a threat are misinterpreted as being very serious. We associate them with danger and develop severe anxiety and in some cases an avoidance response to them.
This is what often happens with travel anxiety.
One of the best ways to help someone overcome fear of flying and travel anxiety is to access the subconscious mind. However, as stated above, this can be difficult because the conscious mind acts as a gatekeeper making it difficult to reach the subconscious. Hypnosis allows us to bypass the conscious mind or the gatekeeper, and allows us direct access to the subconscious where change can begin to take place.
Related: How Hypnosis Works
Here are some simple self-hypnosis techniques that will penetrate deep into the subconscious and help fearful flyers relax:
4 Ways to Overcome Fear of Flying with Self-Hypnosis
1. Slow Your Breathing
When you’re anxious, you’ll find yourself breathing faster, shallower and from the chest. But once you fix your breathing, you’ll be more relaxed and less anxious. Here’s how to do it.
Close your eyes and focus on taking slow and controlled deep breaths. Proper breathing comes from the diaphragm. To ensure proper breathing, place your hand on your stomach and when you inhale you should see your hand moving up.
Hold the breath for 3 seconds and slowly breathe out through your lips dropping your shoulders as you exhale. Picture positive energy coming in as you inhale, and negative energy leaving your body as you exhale.
As your breathing slows down so will the rest of your body and your mind.
2. Make Your Statements & Thoughts Positive
Fearful flyers are full of negative thoughts that lead to anxiety. Statements that flood their minds are usually based in “what if” thinking.
What if the plane crashes?
What if we get stuck on the tarmac for three hours in a snow delay?
What if I lose it and go crazy on the plane?
When it comes to replacing negative thoughts with positive ones, keeping it simple will make it more believable. You can replace negative thoughts on your own, or have a friend or spouse recite them to you. Here are a few examples:
- I feel strong and relaxed and anxiety is no match for me.
- Flying is safe and I’m going to enjoy the experience.
- I can’t wait to see my friends and family. I’m going to have such a good time.
- I can do this and nothing will stop me.
- Anxiety is an unpleasant feeling, but it won’t hurt me and it won’t stop me.
Related: The Power of Positive Thinking
3. Use Visualization
Seeing is believing. Picture all the fear and stress you’re feeling being put into a box. Keep emptying these fears into the box. When you feel like you’ve gotten all the stress out, visualize yourself throwing the box in the garbage never to be heard from again.
With your mind and body clear of the stress and anxiety, picture yourself calmly sitting on the plane, having a good time with friends and family, and of course feeling relaxed and in control at all times.
Related: 11 Ways to Be Mentally Tough
4. Practice makes perfect
The more you practice these techniques the more they’ll begin to work and the more relaxed you will feel. Don’t wait for the day of your flight or for your anxiety levels to increase. Start using these techniques on a daily basis. Mastering them when you’re not anxious will help you implement them when you are feeling anxiety.
This holiday season, don’t become overwhelmed by anxiety. Being anxious can be tough to deal with and uncomfortable at times, but don’t let yourself miss out or be held back from all the fun.
Colin Christopher is a certified clinical hypnotherapist and author of the book Success Through Manipulation: Subconscious Reactions That Will Make or Break You.
Featured image by David Solomons