I can hardly believe I am writing a blog post on the fear of flying. Up until recently I struggled to read about anything remotely connected with planes, let alone write about it, such was the intensity of my fear. And yet here I am, just four weeks from my next holiday to Spain, with a little help from Monarch Airlines of course !
For those of you reading this who are struggling with a fear of flying, you have my deepest sympathy as I know how this fear can impact on your life and those around you. I hope that this personal insight of how I reduced my fear of flying helps you in some way. If you are reading this for interest but you know someone who is struggling with this issue, then please direct them to this post, as it may just be the solution they are looking for.
My fear of flying has been with me since I can remember. As a child I would look up at the sky and be momentarily paralysed in fear at the sight of the big metal beasts flying in and out of the clouds. My mother had been in an plane crash ( although a minor one ) in Canada and I have many memories of her continually retelling me the story of this incident and feeling that all planes were in fact destined to land in a heap on the runway. Of course looking back this is obviously where my fear originated from and as I grew older my fears only grew with intensity.
My first ever flight ( albeit reluctantly ) was at the age of 39 when I flew from Manchester to Portugal with my husband to be, who was shocked at the fact I had never flown and so persuaded me to take my maiden flight. I will be honest, it was utter torture and I spent the whole flight clutching the seat, sweating, eyes tightly closed and breathing so fast I thought I was going to die. Despite the fact that the rest of the passengers applauded me after the Captain of the plane made a special announcement about my first flight and receiving a bottle of Champagne for my efforts, I still hated every single minute of the journey. Of course worse was still to come. In about seven days I would have to go through the whole traumatic event again.
On arriving home I realised that I had a problem and I visited my GP who suggested I should take Valium for any subsequent flights. I desperately wanted to avoid flying altogether but I felt so guilty making my family suffer by stopping them visiting abroad, that I knew I HAD to go. Over the next few years we visited many beautiful countries, America, the Caribbean and mainland Europe, but I still hated the flight and to be honest the whole ‘holiday experience’ was spoilt. While many people enjoy planning their holiday and preparing for the day they travel, I used to avoid anything connected with it. I have never been ‘holiday shopping’ or looked at places of interest at our destination. I would avoid talking about it as it only served as a reminder that I had to get on a plane. I remember my first long haul flight was our honeymoon to San Diego and Palm Springs, staying at the most amazing hotels in the most beautiful surroundings. BUT my main concern was how I would cope on such a long flight. Sadly the excitement of such a potentially wonderful holiday was lost among my fear of flying. And I regret that so much.
Fast forward a few years and my fear of flying became quite a serious issue where we just didn’t go abroad at all for about five years. I was happy holidaying in the UK but understandably my husband was not. He had a keenness to return to skiing and so reluctantly in 2014 I agreed to travel to Austria for a weeks holiday. Of course my old fears returned like they had never left me and I can honestly say the whole experience was torture. We followed this by another return visit to the same ski resort in Austria the following year and on the return journey home we hit a pocket of turbulence like I had never experienced before. As we landed at Gatwick I vowed I would never get on another plane again and started planning our next holiday to Centre Parcs in the Lake District. My husband booked his next ski trip with a friend and I thought that would be the end of it. However, I never realised how guilty I would feel by the fact my fears had now effectively curtailed any future trips abroad for my and my family and we weren’t exactly retired and ready to sit by the fire every night !
So, coupled with this guilt and an overwhelming desire not to let people down I agreed to a holiday in Spain in September 2016 ( in exactly a month from the time of writing this ) Once it was booked I vowed I would somehow find a way to cope better with this fear of flying as I had come to the conclusion that the prescribed Valium just wasn’t working anymore. This suddenly became more urgent in June 2016 as we booked a last minute holiday to Portugal as my husband was suffering from stress at work and he urgently needed a break.
I had been using the self hypnosis recordings by a British Hypnotherapist called Glenn Harrold for a few months with great success. I had been suffering from anxiety and panic attacks for a while and these had been seriously impacting on my daily life. I struggled going out socially and even shopping became a no go area for me. However with the self hypnosis recordings I found a new confidence and my panic attacks subsided. I cannot begin to tell you the difference to my life and it was all thanks to just listening to the recordings once a day.
I had noticed that Glenn also had developed a self hypnosis app on the App Store for a fear of flying. However with the Portugal holiday imminent ( within 12 days ) I was unsure if it would work in such a short space of time. I messaged Glenn to ask his advice and he kindly replied, advising me that it was perfectly fine to listen to the fear of flying self hypnosis recording twice a day. So, for the next 12 days I made it my life’s mission to listen to the recording at least twice a day in the hope that I could get some relief from the imminent torture that I was due to go through in less than two weeks time. There is, of course no way of knowing if the self hypnosis has worked until you are actually catching a flight, which I know is leaving it in the lap of the gods a little but that’s how it is I guess !
The self hypnosis recording includes a thirty minute self hypnosis specifically for the fear of flying, a recording on post hypnotic affirmations and a wonderfully relaxing session designed to help you sleep better. There is some other helpful information including a section on de stressing and my personal favourite, twelve great tips on helping you deal with the practical issues around the actual flight, such as dealing with turbulence.
So fast forward to the day of the flight and I found myself travelling to the airport feeling a little nervous but not nearly as bad as I previously had been. How can I be sure about this ? Well, I ALWAYS get these weird pains in my wrists before I fly. I have NO idea why this is but I am sure there is a medical reason for it ! But this time on my journey to the airport I noticed that the pains were spookily absent.
We had booked into the lounge at the airport as I felt it would be less stressful than waiting for the plane among hoards of other travellers and for the first time ever I found myself actually eating some breakfast from the buffet that was provided. Now for those of you who suffer from fear of flying you will know that eating before a flight is a definite NO GO ! Your stomach is churning so much that food is the LAST thing you want, while trying desperately not to be sick from the overactive nerves. I have spent more time in airport toilets than I have in duty free which should hopefully explain how bad it feels for me before boarding a flight. So, for me to eat something was a big improvement which was closely followed by my relative calmness walking down the tunnel to board the plane.
And now to the actual flight itself. How did I do ? I know you are all wanting to know. I was still apprehensive and not exactly excited about the flight but truthfully I was not half as bad as I was on previous flights. There was a degree of calm within me which I cannot explain. I quietly arranged my personal items I needed for the flight, my noise cancelling headphones ( the engine noise really stresses me so these are perfect ), my ginger sweets ( in case I felt sick ), a bottle of water and my phone on which I had downloaded the relaxation / meditation recordings by Glenn Harrold so I could listen to them on the flight.
And so to the take off, flight and landing. Well, what can I say ? It was a huge improvement on all my previous flights. I didn’t like it and yes, I was still nervous but NOTHING like before. My husband commented straight away on my calmness and general appearance. Gone was the racing heartbeat, the sweats, the clutching at his hand till it was bruised and the tightly closed eyes till we were safe on the ground. The MOST amazing thing that astounded me and still does, was the apparent passing of time while I was on the plane. In the self hypnosis recording Glenn states that the time will pass quickly while on the plane and an hour will seem like ten minutes. AND YES, this is exactly how it was. I have no idea how, but I remember been stunned when my husband tapped my arm and told me we would be landing in thirty minutes. I had been listening to Glenn’s other relaxation recordings on the plane and was feeling quite relaxed but I honestly didn’t feel that I had been on the plane two hours. Perhaps I fell asleep ? Which is unusual for me as I am usually gripping the seat arm rest in sheer terror. Sleep does not come easy to anxious people.
When we landed in Portugal my daughter text me asking me how the flight had been for me. ( Sad isn’t it when the first question you are asked is ‘how was the flight’ NOT ‘what’s the weather like?’ ) I replied to her saying that it had been ok, in fact it was good compared to the previous flights in my life. My husband then commented about the change in me and how well I had coped which actually made me feel quite proud as though I had achieved something major. Perhaps though, I HAD achieved something great. Only those of you who live with fears and anxiety understand how AMAZING it is when you succeed at something that has caused such trauma for you in your life.
In conclusion I would 100% recommend the self hypnosis recordings for fear of flying by Glenn Harrold. I cannot tell you how much I improved and was able to travel as a ‘normal’ passenger, even shopping in duty free for the first time which was such fun ( instead of spending all my time in the toilet ! ) Yes, I was still apprehensive and a little nervous but that’s ok and perfectly normal, and I didn’t have the intense fear that I normally had. And best of all I didn’t need to take any Valium ! How amazing is that ?
Please try the self hypnosis if you are struggling with flying or pass on this information to a family member or friend who may be suffering. I downloaded the app from the App Store for £3.99 I believe, which is no cost at all compared to the results you may get from it. Please have a look at all the recordings by Glenn as there may be something that can help you or a family member for other issues. Self hypnosis REALLY works. I’m not totally sure how but I know that I am a different person to the one I used to be. I just wish I had found these recordings earlier. They are truly life changing and life enhancing.
And now, my dear friends I am going holiday shopping for my upcoming trip to Spain and for once I am so looking forward to going !
Much love and until next time,