Frequent flyers with fear of flying are often scared to death

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Frequent flyers with fear of flying often experience fear of death

Fear of flying is often the exclusion criterion for every vacation trip to the south. The fear of a possible plane crash, of no control and feeling completely exposed to the situation on the plane can lead to a real fear of death for those affected. However, anyone who relies on the plane for professional reasons often has no other choice. Where and how those affected can get help to overcome their fear of flying are certified psychologists.

Coping with fear of flying through anti-anxiety seminars Carolin Weidner is a senior manager in a global group. She travels by plane at least once a week. Frankfurt - New York is their standard route, sometimes it goes to Asia. Rarely does a flight last less than six hours. During this time, the 31-year-old business economist regularly suffers from agony because, like many others, Carolin Weidner is afraid of flying. This manifests itself with a strong feeling of discomfort, tremors and sweats. “In order not to show anything to colleagues and superiors, I regularly took sedatives. I wouldn't have been able to make the flight without the medication, ”says Weidner. During her childhood, she often flew on vacation with the family. Although she was used to flying from an early age and never experienced a dangerous situation on an airplane, the symptoms got worse with age. Until finally she couldn't fly anymore.

In order not to endanger her professional career, Weidner decided at the beginning of the year to hold a seminar on fear of flying - with success! "I have learned various relaxation and relaxation techniques that help me become calmer during the flight," reports the frequent flyer. It was also very helpful to get precise information about aircraft safety and to classify the unknown noises.

There are numerous agencies that offer seminars on coping with fear of flying. This includes, for example, the Munich agency "Texter-Millott", which works with Lufthansa. "Flugangst Service", "Skycair" or "Flugangst-Coaching" are agencies that cooperate with airlines such as Condor, Air Berlin and Germanwings. There are similar offers all over Germany. The seminars usually take place in groups and last one or two days. An accompanying short-haul flight can also be booked.

Often, those affected are not afraid of flying, but of fear. First, those affected should deal with the feeling of fear. "It is helpful to develop an understanding of one's own fear in order to be able to cope with it," explains graduate psychologist Inga Schlattmann. Often it is not the flight itself that the people concerned are afraid of. Rather, it is the symptoms of fear such as rapid heartbeat, restlessness, sweating and dizziness that are perceived as threatening. Some people experience a real panic attack. Therefore, sufferers have to learn that fear is not dangerous. "It is uncomfortable, but not threatening".

At the beginning, the seminar leader shows the participants relaxation and relaxation exercises that can be carried out before and during the flight. This also includes progressive muscle relaxation, in which the so-called "muscle armor" is used. The course participants briefly tense various muscle parts in order to then consciously relax them again. The relaxation situation is then perceived much more intensely.

It can also be helpful to imagine something pleasant, a fantasy scene. This can be practiced in advance and called up while flying to relax. In addition, negative thoughts can be replaced by positive ones.

Affected people can study the construction and safety of the aircraft In order to counter fear of flying with knowledge and understanding, experts advise those affected to study the construction and safety of the aircraft carefully. Because it is helpful to know that the wings are not about to break off because they swing and move. Anyone who is informed knows that the wings are sufficiently elastic so that they do not break off. It is good to know why a plane can fly, how it is equipped and what training a pilot entails. Those affected can find this information on the Internet, in books or at seminars on coping with fear of flying.

For example, all important instruments are present two to three times in the aircraft. "Many people affected can not correctly assign the sounds when flying. If the machine suddenly becomes quieter after starting, you might think of an engine failure, for example, ”reports Dieter Schiebel, owner of the Flugangst Service agency. "In reality, however, this is due to the fact that the landing gear and flaps are retracted and the aircraft flies with less air resistance."

When flying, sufferers suffer from various fears. On the one hand, they find the tightness on the plane very uncomfortable, but the fear of heights also plays a major role. Added to this is the loss of control. When traveling by car or train, there is usually a feeling of residual control, but this is not the case when flying. Those affected feel completely at the mercy of the situation.

Men with fear of flying most often show symptoms such as tremors and rapid breathing, while women experience severe discomfort and react with cramping. This was the result of a survey by the portal "Treffpunkt Flugangst" from 2008.

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Image: Klaus Serek /

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