Here’s what you need to know about the fear of flying

Magdeburg/DUR/awe – “Above the clouds, freedom must be boundless,” singer-songwriter Reinhard Mey once sang. What many people do during the holiday season is pure horror to many others.

Many people are afraid of flying and therefore avoid traveling by plane. But where does this fear come from? Is it justified and what is the best way to deal with it? The qualified psychologist and psychotherapist Prof. Dr. Markus Schaer provides information.

Where does the fear of flying come from?

Fear of flying usually occurs in combination with other fears. According to Schaer, the biggest factor that determines the fear of flying is the loss of control. Passengers need to trust that the pilot is doing “everything right” to make a flight safe. Sometimes there are also doubts about whether the plane is technically free of defects or whether something can break.

Fear of falling is also a concern. Fears of closed spaces and unpredictability are often combined along the way. People with a fear of flying often have a fear of using other modes of transportation that are beyond their control, such as subways, buses, and other forms of public transportation.

How is the fear of flying expressed?

People with a fear of flying tend not to respond to their fear and fight it, making it difficult to overcome it. Fear is always stress for the body, says Professor Dr. Schaer. This is noticed in difficult breathing, dizziness, palpitations and sweating. These physical symptoms are generally signs of stress.

How common is the fear of flying?

Fear of flying is more common than many people think. About 25 to 30 percent of all air travelers suffer from it. Some discomfort or fear of flying is even more common, but usually subsides with habit. A specific phobia of flying is often due to a lack of habit. According to expert Schaer, the fear of flying and with it the fear of the new and the unpredictable will subside as a certain routine is established. The body makes the processes a habit and can process them mentally and physically better.

How dangerous is it to fly and is the fear of flying justified?

Statistically, the airplane is one of the safest means of transportation. According to the portal, the probability of a plane crash is 1 in 30 million. A car or motorcycle accident is significantly more likely at 1 in 15,000. Since the fear of flying often goes hand in hand with not being able to direct yourself but having to trust the skills of the pilot, the fear of flying usually goes hand in hand with the fear of losing control. Statistically and psychologically, the fear of flying is unfounded.

What can you do against the fear of flying?

To overcome fears, they must first be accepted. People with a fear of flying try to fight it or even numb it – for example with drugs or alcohol. But the best way to overcome the fear of flying is to think a little bit during the flight. For example, the flight can be divided into stages – from take-off to landing. Breathing exercises and muscle relaxation help, as well as self-confidence, to manage the flight despite the stress.

Fear of flying seminar: How does the work of psychologists work and what does it look like?

As the first step in a fear of flying seminar from the provider, the topic of fear is addressed. It gets to the bottom of the questions of what fear is, where it comes from, and why it exists. According to Schaer, the physical processes that occur when fear is present are also addressed. In addition, they perform relaxation exercises and chat with a pilot. This explains to seminar participants how an aircraft works, how technical procedures work and what a pilot’s job looks like. Finally, there is a return flight with everyone involved.

Prof. Dr. Markus Schaer is a graduate psychologist, psychotherapist and dean of studies at the Evangelische Hochschule Nürnberg. For the fear of flying seminar provider, he organizes seminars designed to help people overcome their fears.

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