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Life with aerophobia

Updated: Aug 24, 2022

When was the last time you took a plane journey? And did you have any thoughts regarding the risks you were taking by boarding the flight? Well, it turns out that flying is statistically more safe than riding the train or taking the car. With that being said, aerophobia is incredibly common, with around 30% of all air passengers reporting that they have a fear of flying, whether mild or more severe. But it still leaves many asking, what is it like to have this phobia?


In a previous post by Kate Maxwell, we take a look at the fundamentals of the fear of flying. You can read her article, Aerophobia - a fear of flying, to learn more about this phobia and just how it can affect us.


Realities of life with aerophobia

When it comes to life with a fear of flying, it can be more debilitating than simply not being able to get on a plane for a holiday abroad or a weekend away. Sufferers deal with the harsh reality that comes with a phobia.

Sure, they avoid taking a flight, but they can also be challenged by being at a departure gate, the terminal building or even simply talking about flying. Anywhere or anything which is remotely related to flying can be a trigger for them and can lead to the onset of intense fear, visible discomfort, along with stressful thoughts about flying.   

Then, when they are in a place in which they feel they can take a flight, the resulting effects on their health and behaviour can be debilitating. It is extremely common for them to become confused, and unable to think clearly, leading to erratic and often challenging behaviours. This often becomes aggressive, combative and is most likely aimed at family, friends and sometimes airport or airline staff.  

The range of physical symptoms related to aerophobia are significant too. From panic attacks to shaking, nausea and vomiting, to chest pain and abdominal uneasiness, dizziness and fainting, to sweating and clammy hands, it is no surprise that avoidant behaviour is the single most common coping mechanism that those with a fear of flying utilise. 

So, when we consider the idea that a Kiwi can’t take a flight, all of a sudden that becomes quite perplexing. Considering that 2020 has us staying in New Zealand and that many of us are exploring parts of the country that we haven’t even seen before, it might just be a little insight into their style of holiday break. Not everyone is excited to jump on a plane at the earliest opportunity to get to the Islands or Australia! 

Tips from sufferers

As for learning from the experience of others, there is much we can glean from those who have suffered from aerophobia. Here are three tips from those who have previously had a fear of flying, and who have found some solace in taking these steps.

  1. Watch what you drink - drinking caffeine, energy drinks or alcohol before (and during) a flight is not going to help. These stimulants will add extra nervous energy before you board and will heighten your awareness to your phobia. Instead, why not have some peppermint or chamomile tea, both of which have calming qualities.

  2. Take a deep breath - phobias are rooted in anxiety, so for anyone who has experienced anxiety appreciates it is no walk in the park. So, knowing how to recognize and cope with anxiety is essential. Practicing slow, deep breathing can ensure your body remains calm, particularly during take off and landing.

  3. Get to know the process - for those with aerophobia, knowledge is key. It is completely natural to fear things which we don't fully understand. Learning more about how airplanes work, what causes turbulence, and even the physics of flying can empower you against your phobia.


If the content of this article has you thinking you might just have a fear of flying, why reach out to the team at oVRcome for find out more. And, of course, stay tuned for updates on how to manage aerophobia through the upcoming app!   

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