NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It’s peak travel season, and AAA says more Americans will be flying this summer compared to the same period last year.
Not everyone likes the idea of a commute 30,000 feet above ground, however.
So how do you conquer your fear of flying? Dr. Sanam Hafeez, a New York City-based neuropsychologist, has some tips.
“I will have to say that it’s supposed to be a gradual, therapeutic, you know, sort of plan, so if you have to take a flight in a week, it’s probably not enough, but there are things you can still do,” Hafeez said.
Hafeez says with any kind of phobia, exposure therapy is key.
“The more you expose someone to something that they’re terrified of, the easier it gets, because the thought of what might happen is worse than the actual occurrence or event,” she said.
Hafeez says understanding how planes work by reading a book, watching a technical video or attending a flight clinic is one step you can take to help conquer your fear.
Another option is cognitive behavior therapy, which aims to replace irrational thoughts and behaviors.
Hafeez also suggests avoiding media that could heighten your anxiety, such as news about plane crashes or movies that sensationalize death by air travel.
One easier, more immediate solution is to get a prescription for benzodiazepine, which will calm anxiety.
“But just having that prescription I think does all the magic because you know there’s a rescue if you need it. But the ideal way to do it is to slowly familiarize yourself with, let’s say, packing a suitcase and doing some deep breathing and see how you feel. Master that. Maybe drive to the airport just one day and come back, and then maybe walk through a terminal. Just the things leading up to the flight can be just as frightful as the flight itself,” Hafeez said.
She also suggests telling a flight attendant about your fear before boarding and giving them your seat number so they can check on you during the flight.